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ImpotenceA Cultural History$
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Angus McLaren

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226500768

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226500935.001.0001

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

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

(p.149) [7] Sigmund Freud, Marie Stopes, and “The Love of Civilized Man”
University of Chicago Press

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

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