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Faculty Book: Patricia Mainardi

Patricia Mainardi

Husbands, Wives, and Lovers:
Marriage and Its Discontents in Nineteenth-Century France

(Yale University Press, 2003; 256 pp.)

Patricia Mainardi has written a lively, interdisciplinary exploration of the cultural and social history of early nineteenth-century France, focusing on what was considered a major social problem of the time—adultery. In a period when expectations about marriage were changing, the problems of husbands, wives, and lovers became a major theme in theater, literature, and the visual arts. This intense interest was grounded in the post-Revolutionary collision between a new concept of the individual's right to happiness and the traditional prerogatives of family and state, Mainardi demonstrates. Examining the questions that permeated French culture and society—about duty vs. happiness—about arranged marriage vs. love, and the penalties for adultery—Mainardi argues that such legal, social, and cultural debates led to modern bourgeois family values. She is professor of art history and executive officer of the doctoral program in art history at The Graduate Center.

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Submitted on: OCT 1, 2003

Category: Art History, Faculty Books