Love and Sex

John Holmes

in Darwin's Bards

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780748639403
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652174 | DOI:
Love and Sex

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  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)


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This chapter examines the implications of the fact that humans are animals for how they think about love and sexual desire. Constance Naden's finest achievement as a comic poet is the series of four poems grouped together under the title ‘Evolutional Erotics’. These four poems both parody and probe the evolutionary accounts of sexual desire. The power of sexual selection is in the hands of the women. Edna St Vincent Millay's sonnet draws attention to the discrepancy between the idealistic language of love and the reality that romantic relationships are prone to the vicissitudes of everyday life. George Meredith's agonising analysis of the collapse of a marriage, Modern Love, is described. It then considers Thom Gunn's The Man with Night Sweats. For Meredith, Millay, and Gunn it is a fundamental implication of Darwinism that all human desire falls by definition within the scope of human nature.

Keywords: sexual desire; Constance Naden; Evolutional Erotics; Edna St Vincent Millay; George Meredith; Modern Love; Thom Gunn; Darwinism

Chapter.  17938 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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