Marriage and Manners

The institutions of marriage and family in European culture are the focus of two separate interviews. First, Michael Screech discusses these subjects as seen through the work of two eminent French writers: the comic poet Rabelais and the essayist Michel de Montaigne. Screech sees marriage as initially created to avoid the sin of fornication.

In the second segment [14:25], Lawrence Stone discusses aspects of eighteenth-century marriage in Britain, including the purpose of marriage, the roles of husband and wife, how people dealt with failed marriages, and religious and cultural influences. He looks at the dual treatment of men and women, and the differences between upper- and lower-class marriages. He also compares eighteenth- and twentieth-century marriage, with their different influences and goals. He sees a transition in the eighteenth century in the cultural attitude from marriage for money or utility to marriage for love and affection.

At the time of this interview, Screech was senior research fellow at Oxford University.

Stone, a Fellow at the National Humanities Center (1990-92), was professor of social history at Princeton University.

This edition of Soundings was conducted by Wayne J. Pond.

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