Love, Sex, Politics
The Introduction explores the idea of a supposed ‘unrationalized coexistence’ of competing sexual and political mores under the Restoration, some holdovers from the Ancien Régime, others peculiar to the new; the phrase ‘unrationalized coexistence’ is borrowed from Eve Sedgwick, but the concept is drawn from Restoration writers’ own depictions of the confused, transitional character of their society. The Introduction also examines the crucial rhetorical figure of ellipsis, which became in this period an unmistakeable means of evoking either the sexual, or the political, or both. The Introduction concludes by considering the notion of ‘Platonic love’—relationships characterized by unconsummated erotic desire—that was the most influential, though also the most contested, model of love in Restoration high art.
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