24 July, 2011

maintaining sexual equilibrium (part 2)

I finished this book last week, but just want to summarize how I felt about it after reading the conclusion...

There are several subtly intertwined subtexts throughout the novel, but the most interesting is the nameless aspect of the main character. Even while getting to know the narrator excruciatingly well, the reader never discovers her name. Why is she the only person in the book to go unnamed? This nameless state builds her as a sort of "Everywoman" to readers.

But the narrator's lover is thoroughly identified; his last name is renowned in academic circles. He is a Creator, a Messiah of sorts; by the end of the book, this "Everywoman" devotes more and more of her time to scheming against him - all because he's essentially transcended without her. 

Females will identify with her, while still being horrified by the extent of her drive to get a man (and what she does with him once she's decided she doesn't like who he's become). Yes, there are things that ring true in this text. While I'm still not totally certain how I feel about the book, I know that I enjoyed it. And if I'm still thinking about it a week after finishing it, that's a good sign as well. It's extremely well-written and, if anything, is worth reading to explore what Norman Rush thinks a woman of above-average intelligence might do for love.

The book seems to serve as a sort of parable as well; I agree with the author that women are better off when unconsumed by an irrational, irrevocably obsessive love. At the same time, I disagree that the main character is an "Everywoman." There are too many extremes for her to represent the average female.

Maybe she's meant to be academia's quintessential "good girl gone bad?"

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