Law and Conversation

May 11, 2011

Miserable marriages in literature

To my disappointment, I couldn’t find any fictional stories containing prenuptial agreements to accompany my recent post on the royal wedding and prenups.  But fiction abounds in unhappy marriages, as the Guardian recently observed.

In addition to the Guardian’s recommendations of Edward Albee‘s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” Gustave Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary,” and Henry James‘s “Portrait of a Lady,” I’d recommend George Eliot‘s “Middlemarch,” and Edith Wharton’s “Ethan Frome” and “The Custom of the Country.” And for a stunningly well-crafted saga of an absolutely dreadful marriage between two absolutely dreadful people from two absolutely dreadful families, John Updike’s “Rabbit” tetralogy is hard to beat. (To be fair, those dreadful people are three-dimensional, and from the circumstances that Updike presents, the reader can understand, if not excuse, why they’re as dreadful as they are.)

All of these books are classics, meriting reading and rereading.  But they’re only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fictional depictions of miserable marriages.

Do you think prenuptial agreements would have mitigated the fallout of any of the marriages depicted in these works? And am I being too hard on Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom and his family?

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2 Comments »

  1. […] — Helen Gunnarsson @ 12:01 am Tags: John Updike, mediation, Rabbit, Rabbit Redux, settlement In my last post, I originally wrote that Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, the fictional protagonist of John […]

    Pingback by Fairness in fiction: Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom « Law and Conversation — May 13, 2011 @ 12:34 am | Reply

  2. […] Gunnarsson @ 12:01 am Tags: Gustave Flaubert, lawyer writers, Madame Bovary, medical malpractice Earlier I posted about miserable marriages in literature and noted The Guardian’s recent reference to Gustave Flaubert‘s nineteenth century […]

    Pingback by Medical malpractice in Madame Bovary « Law and Conversation — May 16, 2011 @ 12:04 am | Reply


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