ADULTERY by Louise DeSalvo

By Louise DeSalvo

Louise DeSalvo dangers all, within the corporation of Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf, Henry Miller, and Madam Recamier. through filtering the tale of her personal husband's affair via other's tales, she revels within the regularly intriguing fable and tells from the often painful truth of adultery. The conclusions she attracts, and the stability she reveals in her marriage and in others, make ADULTERY a enjoyable, poignant, and compassionate publication.

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And about sorrow. Because in every adultery story, no matter how euphorically it begins, we always encounter more sorrow than we dreamed possible, for adultery always causes sorrow, even as it unfurls whatever past sorrows we have experienced. An adultery story always tries to determine whether we are in control of our own desire or whether these feelings are beyond our ability to manage them. And theseyearning, loss, desire, sorrow, autonomyare, at least in my experience, the fundamental bedrock of the chastened human soul.

American readers, contemporary readers, of course, would choose different books. The dangerous book, for mesome years ago, I confesswas Virginia Woolf's Orlando. A friend to whom I once admitted Page 14 this, suggested that it was surely Woolf's satiric detail about the cucumbers growing to absurd lengths during Victorian England that probably did it. Perhaps. But I believe that it was Orlando's equation with living a full life and taking a lover, or several lovers, that did it. "'Life! ' not 'Life!

That evening, she wrote a sonnet called "Ame Close," which she referred to as her "Herblay sonnet," to commemorate their visit to her adulterous idol's home and their complex and compromised passion. Gloria C. Erlich, in "The Libertine as Liberator" (Women's Studies 20, no. 2 (1991): 97-108) describes how, at forty-five years of age, Wharton was introduced to Fullerton through Henry James. She was, at the time, actively seeking love, for she had been living in an "emotionally stagnant" marriage that would soon end with an emotionally disturbed, adulterous man.

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