Google full text of our books:


The Masochistic Pleasures of Sentimental Literature
Marianne Noble

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2000

Paperback | 2000 | $52.50 | £44.95 | ISBN: 9780691009377
240 pp. | 7 3/4 x 10
Add to Shopping Cart

eBook | ISBN: 9781400823659 |
Our eBook editions are available from these online vendors

Reviews | Table of Contents

Google full text of this book:

For generations, critics have noticed in nineteenth-century American women's sentimentality a streak of masochism, but their discussions of it have over-simplified its complex relationship to women's power. Marianne Noble argues that tropes of eroticized domination in sentimental literature must be recognized for what they were: a double-edged sword of both oppression and empowerment. She begins by exploring the cultural forces that came together to create this ideology of desire, particularly Protestant discourses relating suffering to love and middle-class discourses of "true womanhood." She goes on to demonstrate how sentimental literature takes advantage of the expressive power in the convergence of these two discourses to imagine women's romantic desire. Therefore, in sentimental literature, images of eroticized domination are not antithetical to female pleasure but rather can be constitutive of it. The book, however, does not simply celebrate that fact. In readings of Warner's The Wide Wide World, Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Dickinson's sentimental poetry, it addresses the complex benefits and costs of nineteenth-century women's literary masochism. Ultimately it shows how these authors both exploited and were shaped by this discursive practice.

The Masochistic Pleasures of Sentimental Literature exemplifies new trends in "Third Wave" feminist scholarship, presenting cultural and historical research informed by clear, lucid discussions of psychoanalytic and literary theory. It demonstrates that contemporary theories of masochism--including those of Deleuze, Bataille, Kristeva, Benjamin, Bersani, Noyes, Mansfield--are more relevant and comprehensible when considered in relation to sentimental literature.


"This book does an admirable job of assessing the cultural and libidinal values attached to sentimental fiction and its prevalent tropology of erotic domination in 19th century writing by women."--Virginia Quarterly Review

"[A] complex, nuanced volume . . .Though the author abundantly documents the oppressive aspects of fantasies of masochistic desire, she also traces the kinds of power and pleasure produced in works that eroticize female attraction to pain and submission to male domination."--Choice

"Noble's flexible and dazzling close reading of Stowe, Warner, and Dickinson are artful, and she usefully demonstrates that exploring the variations of individualistic psychological response is key to understanding the work of sentimental discourse."--Rebecca Wanzo, American Literature


"A well-written and sophisticated study of nineteenth-century female masochism and its expression in the writing of middle-class American women of the period. Marianne Noble's plan is impressive: she is at once a thoughtful theorist and an admirable close reader of texts. The result is a work that engages in an illuminating and thought-provoking manner with extremely complex issues."--Suzanne Juhasz, University of Colorado

"Marianne Noble's book is the first study of sentimentality in American women's writing to go decisively beyond the impasse created by the Douglas-Tomkins debate. It brings acute and sophisticated perception to the study of a group of writers whose fate has frequently been to serve as stalking horses for other issues, rather than as objects of individual study in themselves. As a psychoanalytically oriented text, it is remarkably clear and persuasive, using theory to illuminate the dynamics of masochistic fantasy without obscurantism. This is a wonderful book."--Paula Bennett, Southern Illinois University

Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction "Weird Curves": Masochism and Feminism 3
One Masochistic Discourses of Womanhood 26
Two Sentimental Masochism 61
Tbe Parallel Structures of Sentimentalism and Masochism 62
"The Lineaments of the Divine Master" 85
Three "An Ecstasy of Apprehension": The Erotics, of Domination in The Wide, Wide World 94
The Making of a Masochist 96
Horsewhipping and the Exploration of Desire 113
Four The Ecstasies of Sentimental Wounding in Uncle Tom's Cabin 126
The Epistemology of Wounds 128
A Raging, Burning Storm of Feeling 136
Five The Revenge of Cato's Daughter: Emily Dickinson's Uses of Sentimental Masochism 147
The Power of Sentimental Masochism 157
The Erotics of Sentimental Masochism 164
The Presence of Sentimental Masochism 174
Conclusion The Possibility of Masochism 190
Notes 199
Works Cited 235
Index 251

Subject Areas:

Shopping Cart options:

  • For ebooks:

Our eBook editions are available
from these online vendors:

  • Amazon Kindle Store
  • Barnes & Noble Nook Store
  • Google Play eBook Store
  • Many of our ebooks are available through
    library electronic resources including these platforms:

  • Books at JSTOR
  • Ebrary
  • Ebook Library
  • EBSCO Ebooks
  • MyiLibrary
  • Dawsonera (UK)

    • For hardcover/paperback orders in United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, and Australia

     Paperback : $52.50 ISBN: 9780691009377

    Add to shopping cart
    View contents of your shopping cart

    • For hardcover/paperback orders in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan

     Paperback  £44.95 ISBN: 9780691009377

    Add to shopping cart
    View contents of your shopping cart

    Prices subject to change without notice

    File created: 7/11/2017

    Questions and comments to:
    Princeton University Press

    New Book E-mails
    New In Print
    PUP Blog
    Princeton APPS
    Sample Chapters
    Princeton Legacy Library
    Exam/Desk Copy
    Recent Awards
    Princeton Shorts
    Freshman Reading
    PUP Europe
    About Us
    Contact Us
    PUP Home

    Bookmark and Share 
    Send me emails
    about new books in:
    Gender Studies
    American Literature
    More Choices