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Customer Review

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 4 June 2022
I thought this was a pretty good book. The author talks about “chronological snobbery” to mean the attitude that the past is out of date and therefore discredited (E.P. Thompson called it “the enormous condescension of posterity”). She also maintains that female and male sexuality are intrinsically not the same, which has always been obvious to me, though there are lately schools of thought that deny it. I grew up in the north of England at a time when the tradition was for young men and women to find a partner they could get along with and then go through a few stages of courtship, save up for a deposit on a house, then get married in the hope that the marriage would last a lifetime. I left there when I was 16 and didn’t have that kind of marriage, but a couple of my friends who did stayed married all their lives and apparently were happy that way. Aside from such happiness that they found in the marriage itself, it freed their energies to be productive in other ways and to build comfortable homes.

As far as “chronological snobbery” goes, I often try and understand and imagine what it must have been like to live in the age of Jane Austen or in the 19th century of the Schumanns and Brahms. Brahms was in love all his life with a woman he couldn’t have and yet nobody wrote better love songs or had deeper friendships with both men and women than Brahms. Are we missing something? Stephan Zweig writes in “The World of Yesterday” about this, he says when he sees young couples who have become lovers he thinks about Vienna in his youth and the terrible ordeals the kids had to go through if infected with syphillis and he definitely prefers the modern way, but he was writing in the 1940s long before the rise of Tinder and the modern omnicopulant freelance gonadista.

The writer ends with a recommendation to get married. I think that’s sound advice, even though I never quite managed it. The world of casual sexual encounters is becoming quite terrifying, not just for women, but also for men who can easily lose their reputation and profession if they do something that stranger lying next to them in bed wasn’t quite expecting. Maybe the greatest invention of mankind was not the wheel, but the wedding ring?
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