Sigmund Freud, Marie Stopes, and “The Love of Civilized Man”

in Impotence

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780226500768
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226500935 | DOI:
Sigmund Freud, Marie Stopes, and “The Love of Civilized Man”

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In The Sun Also Rises (1926) Ernest Hemingway memorably portrayed a cast of sexual types, each representing some facet of a perceived crisis in early twentieth-century masculinity. We experience Jake's confused feelings aroused by the smoking, dancing, and drinking flappers led by the androgynous and promiscuous Brett. Hemingway's master stroke is to give his macho clichés tragic weight by having them voiced by a man who is impotent yet still the most masculine of men. Though Hemingway never allows his hero to refer explicitly to his impotence, his unnamed, irreparable problem casts its shadow over every scene in the novel. Two charismatic figures—Sigmund Freud and Marie Stopes—drew on their own life experiences to reconfigure the meaning of male sexual dysfunctions. Though their conclusions radically differed, they both began with the premise that impotence was a symptom of masculinity in crisis.

Keywords: impotence; Sigmund Freud; Marie Stopes; masculinity; sexual dysfunctions; Ernest Hemingway

Chapter.  14910 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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