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Mothers: An Essay on Love and Cruelty

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  99 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Mothers: An Essay on Love and Cruelty is guided by a simple argument: that motherhood is the place in our culture where we lodge - or rather bury - the reality of our own conflicts, of psychic life, and what it means to be fully human. Mothers are the ultimate scapegoat for our personal and political failings, for everything that is wrong with the world, which becomes thei ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 19th 2018 by Faber Faber
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3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  99 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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Raquel Casas
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
«O reconocemos qué es exactamente lo que les estamos pidiendo a las madres que hagan en el mundo —y por el mundo—, o seguiremos destrozando el mundo y a las propias madres».
Reseña completa en mi blog. Link en bio.
En mi búsqueda de libros que aúnen Maternidad y Literatura, este libro es una de las #joyitas de mi biblioteca. Por un lado, es un ensayo que ahonda en la responsabilidad que tienen las madres social y personalmente así como su invisibilización en prácticamente todos los ámbitos (leyé
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
"the mother-daughter relationship, the pregnancy that contains the mother and all her forebears - 'and if my mother should emerge from my stomach just now when i think i am safe?' - is where the world loses its bearings and all boundaries dissolve (giving the lie to the idea that any mother can hold everything in place). [...] allowing borders to open, recognising the radical fragility of the boundaries we create, can also be seen, in relation to mothers, as the foundation for a different ethics ...more
Mar 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
Oh boy, I had really high hopes of this, which might have been one of two reasons behind my disappointment. The other being the fact that I recently finished Elena Ferrante: Parole chiave that though spoke about motherhood within the framework of Ferrante's work, it did so in a way that was both thorough and practical, moving beyond the confines of literature itself.

Maybe the problem here is me, but this book is at best a very spotty introduction to the discussion of motherhood and mothers from
Jaco Barnard-Naudé
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was privileged to be in conversation with the author on 4 December at The Book Lounge in Cape Town. This is a book that makes you understand why Edward Said says of the author that she has no peer amongst critics of her generation. The analysis is lucid and breathtaking. The prose leaps off the page and the argument allows us to understand clearly why our culture’s approach to mothers and motherhood lies at the core of our contemporary predicament.
Jan 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
maybe jacqueline rose's flair for the dramatic and gestural in this book can best be emblematized by her unusually frequent use of the word "plaint." i say this neutrally or even affectionately, i think—and also as a (self-) reminder that we attend to a book's necessary limits, even if that book has decided to call itself, mightily, "mothers." i think really that the subtitle—"an essay on love and cruelty"—is far more revealing. we might want to think about this book not as about mothers (i mean ...more
"What are we doing – what aspects of our social arrangements and of our inner lives, what forms of historic injustice, do we turn our backs on, above all, what are doing to mothers – when we expect mothers to carry the burden of everything that is hardest to contemplate about our society and ourselves?"

Jacqueline Rose's brilliant new book Mothers can be described as one person's attempt to come to terms with motherhood, with what Rose describes as the "acute pleasure of being a mother". Acute
Sally Flint
Jul 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads
This is a rollercoaster of a book which I part enjoyed very much and I in part wanted to stop and ask a million questions about. To sum up it is a long essay that explores motherhood in Western culture, arguing that motherhood is the condition that all the wrongs of the world are subsumed into, be they political or personal, and that mothers are also supposed to make everything perfect and the demands upon them are immense and impossible. To explore this the writer draws heavily on literature, l ...more
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
Hm. I love Rose’s acute intellect and articulate analysis usually, but this reads like it’s written for a different audience, who may not be interested in that analytical intellect. It is a scattergun approach to everything written that disavows and idealizes mothers. Actually not quite everything; there’s some more interesting research she hasn’t read like Fiona Giles, Christina Traina, Alison Bartlett, Julie Stephens, especially on the maternal erotic. Perhaps this is an initial general reader ...more
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
En interessant bok om det å være mor. Hvordan vi dømmer, instruerer og ser på mødre. Hva mødre gjør mot sine barn, både med vilje og uten å være klar over det. Hvordan en kvinne nesten slutter å være kvinne etter at hun blir mor - da er hun bare .... mamma, på et vis. Forfatterskapene til Elena Ferrante, Simone de Beauvoir, Sylvia Plath, Ariel Leve, Magona Sindiwe m.fl. diskuteres i lys av det å være mor. Historie og nåværende forhold tas opp. Alt i alt en interessant og godt skrevet bok om et v ...more
Niamh O'connell
Sep 24, 2018 rated it liked it
This book has some really unique criticisms to offer on the impossible standards expected of modern mothers.

But, overall, it is a very vague book with no real overall argument.

Rose moves between Greek tragedies to the fiction of Elena Ferrante to South African novels kind of grasping for similarities.

The book feels more like a homage to Rose’s experience as a mother and to her female relatives than it does as an academic analysis of the cult of motherhood.
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was excited about this book when I saw that it contained a chapter on Elena Ferrante, but I found it largely disappointing on the whole. Most of Rose’s gripes about the public perceptions of motherhood are not new or particularly insightful, and the book as a whole seems to have no central focus or point. I am not sure what it is about, really, or what Rose was trying to say.
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Insightful and thought provoking. Talking about things we know but don't like to think about a lot sometimes because it doesn't fit the rosy, comfortable face of what it is to be, and to have, a mother that is rooted in childhood and family mythology. Or we do but its not ok to talk about it.
Leanne Ellis
Jun 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting perspective about how motherhood should not be idealized or demonized and how different authors approach the subject. I felt the theme too narrow thought, reduced to extremes and not delving into the complexities of how different writers approach the subject even if on the periphery. Her book on Sylvia Plath was more detailed, thought-provoking, and researched.
Hayley Gullen
Jun 28, 2018 rated it liked it
This is very thought-provoking and challenges the way that society views mothers - something that I welcome. It's not a light read though, and is quite heavy on the literary references - but again this is interesting and valuable.
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a like a long conversation you’ve been waiting for someone to have with you
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely necessary account on the other side of motherhood. Brilliant!
Aafke Romeijn
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting analysis of motherhood in cultural artefacts from ancient Greece to Elena Ferrante. Pretty heavy on the psychoanalytical side, reduces every narrative to a Lacanian read.
Carrie Chappell
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rose's Ferrante chapter is quite well-done.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
descending more deeply into the lovely, dark valley of uncanny, by which i mean reading books about MOTHERHOOD while staying with my MOTHER in ME (an under-appreciated narcissistic state acronym, rivaled only in poetic potentiality by my OR[igin]). forgive my (parenthetical) indulgences. it could be worse. for instance, today i wrote an entirely abcedarian personals ad, "analytical baby critic/dyke...," that of course i will not submit. it will wither but never die in the archives of my notes ap ...more
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Jan 09, 2019
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Jun 18, 2018
Morgan Schulman
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May 10, 2018
May 14, 2018 added it
Shelves: read-in-2018
Favorite excerpt: "s feminism has long pointed out, most bodily experiences of women from menstruation to pregnancy to menopause without distinction tend to be regarded as a form of debilitation or illness: too much blood and guts, bodies either too wet or too dry, bodies that inconveniently bur the boundaries between inside and out."
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May 15, 2018
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Sep 11, 2018
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Jun 09, 2018
Vincent Scarpa
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May 18, 2018
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Jacqueline Rose, FBA (born 1949, London) is a British academic who is currently Professor of Humanities at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities.

Rose was born into a non-practicing Jewish family. Her elder sister was the philosopher Gillian Rose. Jacqueline Rose is known for her work on the relationship between psychoanalysis, feminism and literature. She is a graduate of St Hilda's College, O