Knowing what we now know about our imitative impulses, we can venture forward to the realm of culture, comfortable with the idea that to live in a place is unavoidably to live out the hopes and dreams of that place. Consider The Glass Slipper, Susan Ostrov Weisser’s immensely satisfying effort to understand why modern women still subscribe to Victorian ideals of love and romance. Why, indeed, she wonders, especially in light of the great feminist strides made toward equality between the sexes in the seventies and glass ceilings falling throughout corporate America more recently.
Irony of all ironies, she notes, is that Harlequin novels launched at the same time feminism was hammering home the fact that marriage and romance were oppressive to women.
A professor of English at Adelphi University, Weisser has long engaged her students in ribald discussions about their contemporary relationships to better understand why the digital age still sees the same patterns. “In our society,” she writes, “there is a Tinker Bell approach to ‘believing in love’: it authorizes itself, much like religious faith.”
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