THE DAUGHTER: A Novel Based on the Life of Eleanor Marx by Judith Chernaik

THE DAUGHTER: A Novel Based on the Life of Eleanor Marx

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With its emphasis on Eleanor Marx's late-19th-century conjugal angst, this might better be titled The Wife, but Eleanor cannot escape her parentage nor Chernaik the temptation to cash in on it. Father Karl, however, is already gone at the outset cf this fictionalized life, and Chernaik chooses to play down Eleanor's political activities in favor of her anguished ""marriage"" to that prototypical louse--parasite and failed playwright Edward Aveling. It is not that Eleanor's politics are absent--her lecturing, writing, and organizing labors on behalf of socialist and feminist issues form the backdrop--but the emotional impact of her successes and faillares in that sphere are dwarfed by her sexual conflicts. Chernalk's Eleanor is a onedimensional Madame Bovary caught between a theory of sexual freedom and a reality of sexual domination, with Aveling pulling the strings and binding her to their destructive relationship. She is racked by indecision, is torn between the extremist sexual positions of her idiosyncratic friends, and eventually is pushed to suicide by hideous Aveling. The real-life Eleanor was more interesting--and the reasons for her deterioration more politically and personally complex. With Yvonne Kapp's biography (Eleanor Marx, 2 vols.) recently completed, Chernaik's dialogue-heavy novelization is redundant when it is not one-sided, but feminists in search of tragic heroines may find this a readable enough slice of inspiration.

Pub Date: March 28th, 1979
Publisher: Harper & Row