For centuries, people have been thinking and writing - and fiercely debating - about the meaning of marriage. Today, politicians speak often of defending or protecting this institution, but just a hundred years ago, Progressive-era reformers embraced marriage t as a time-hored repository for conservative values, but as a tool for social change. In Until Choice Do Us Part, Clare Virginia Eby offers a new account of marriage as it appeared in fiction, journalism, legal decisions, scholarly work, and private correspondence at the start of the twentieth century. Beginning with reformers like sexologist Havelock Ellis and anthropologist Elsie Clews Parsons-who argued that spouses should be class equals joined by private affection, t public sanction - Eby guides us through the stories of three literary couples - Upton and Meta Fuller Sinclair, Theodore and Sara White Dreiser, and Neith Boyce and Hutchins Hapgood - who sought to reform marriage in their lives and in their writings, with mixed results. With this focus on the intimate side of married life, Eby gives readers a view into a historical moment that changed the nature of American marriage-and which continues to shape marital rms today.
Clare Virginia Eby is professor of English at the University of Connecticut. She is the author of Dreiser and Veblen, Saboteurs of the Status Quo and an editor of The Cambridge History of the American Novel.