Synopses & Reviews
This book invitesno, demandsa response from its readers. It is impossible not to be drawn in to the provocative (often contentious) discussion that Harvey Mansfield sets before us. This is the first comprehensive study of manliness, a quality both bad and good, mostly male, often intolerant, irrational, and ambitious. Our gender-neutral society” does not like it but cannot get rid of it.
Drawing from science, literature, and philosophy, Mansfield examines the layers of manliness, from vulgar aggression, to assertive manliness, to manliness as virtue, and to philosophical manliness. He shows that manliness seeks and welcomes drama, prefers times of war, conflict, and risk, and brings change or restores order at crucial moments. Manly men in their assertiveness raise issues, bring them to the fore, and make them public and politicalas for example, the manliness of the womens movement.
After a wide-ranging tour from stereotypes to Hemingway and Achilles, to Nietzsche, to feminism, and to Plato, the author returns to todays problem of unemployed manliness.” Formulating a reasoned defense of a quality hardly obedient to reason, he urges men, and especially women, to understand and accept manliness, and to give it honest and honorable employment.
This is the first comprehensive study of manliness, a quality both bad and good, mostly male, often intolerant, irrational, and ambitious. Drawing from science, literature, and philosophy, Mansfield formulates a reasoned defense of a quality hardly obedient to reason.
About the Author
A Conversation with Harvey Mansfield
Q: Why did you decide to write a book on manliness?
A: We today have embarked, not fully realizing what we are doing, on a radical experiment to make a society never before seen in historya gender-neutral society in which your sex matters as little as possible and does not give you your rights, your duties, and your place. Manliness, a quality that prevails in one sex, stands in the way of this aspiration. Is it obsolete? My book shows what manliness brings to a free society: confidence in the face of risk and trouble from those who love risk too much.
Q: You identify educated women” as the primary target audience for your book. Why?
A: Women are better listeners than men, and I want to persuade them of the need to make room in their lives and thoughts for manliness. Even if they dont agree, they will be interested to see what I make of manliness and of differences between the sexes. I assume men will want to learn about manliness. Anyway, they ought to.
Q: What is the difference between manliness” and masculinity”?
A: Masculinity” collects traits that are common to all or almost all males; these are close to the male body. Manliness” is a quality of the soul only a few men have, and they typically look down on most men for not being manly. Nowadays masculinity” is sometimes used to depreciate manliness by critics who dont care for it.
Q: Whos manly and whos not?
A: Among actors John Wayne and Clint Eastwood are manly, Alan Alda and pretty boys like Leonardo DiCaprio and Jude Law are not. Harry S. Truman was manly, Jimmy Carter is not. Any novel by Elmore Leonard revolves around a manly man, usually a criminal. But my point is not to provide criteria for judging who is manly. Most people know that already. They dont know how to judge what is manly. What do manly men do for us? Are they more trouble than they are worth?