Man ~ The Ungrown

passion is the little fire with which he toysIn 1911, author Edward Carpenter wrote in a prefatory note to his book Love’s Coming of Age:

When I first wrote this book some fifteen years ago, if was refused in succession by five or six well-known London publishers; and ultimately I had to print it at my own expense. Such was the taboo then prevailing on matters of sex. . . . to-day people are beginning to see that a decent and straightforward discussion of sex-questions is not only permissable, but is quite necessary, if ever we are to have a better order in this department of human life.

I’m glad I was able to find this edition ~ a “specially authorized American issue,” which contains “all the latest additions and corrections up to date,” according to Mr. Carpenter. Here is an excerpt:

1911: Man ~ The Ungrown

Man, the ordinary human male, is a curious animal. While mastering the world with his pluck, skill, enterprise, he is in matters of Love for the most part a child. The passion plays havoc with him; nor does he ride the Leopard, as Ariadne is fabled to have done.

In this he differs from the other sex; and the difference can be seen in earliest years. When the boy is on his rocking horse, the girl is caressing her doll. When the adolescent youth, burning to master a real quadruped, is still somewhat contemptuous of Love’s power, “sweet seventeen” has already lost and regained her heart several times, and is accomplished in all the finesse of feeling.

To the grown man love remains little more than a plaything. Affairs, politics, fighting, money-making, creative art, constructive industry, are his serious business; the affections are his relaxation; passion is the little fire with which he toys, and which every now and then flares out and burns him up. His affections, his passions, are probably as a rule stronger than woman’s; but he never attains to understand them or be master of their craft. With woman all this is reversed.

A man pelts along on his hobby ~ his business, his career, his latest invention, or what not ~ forgetful that there is such a thing in the world as the human heart; then all of a sudden he “falls in love,” tumbles headlong in the most ludicrous way, fills the air with his cries, struggles frantically like a fly in a treacle; and all the time hasn’t the faintest idea whether he has been inveigled into the situation, or whether he got there of his own accord, or what he wants now he is there. Suicides, broken hearts, lamentations, and certainly a whole panorama, marvellous in beauty, of lyrical poetry and art, mark the experience of love’s distress in Man. Woman in the same plight neither howls nor cries, she does not commit suicide or do anything extravagant, she creates not a single poem or work of art of any account; but she simply goes on her way and suffers in silence, shaping her life to the new conditions. Never for a moment does she forget that her one serious object is Love; but never for a moment does she “give herself away” or lose her head, in the pursuit of that object.

Source: Carpenter, Edward. Love’s Coming of Age. New York: The Modern Library, 1911.
~ pp. 31-32 ~