Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar
Readings on Courting and Marrying
656 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Paperback | 9780268019600 | February 2000
Hardcover | 9780268019594 | February 2000
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268201388 | October 2020
Book | 9780268201388 | October 2020
Despite current concerns for “family values” and the dissolution of marriages, Amy A. and Leon R. Kass see very little attention being paid to what makes for marital success. They argue there are no longer socially prescribed forms of conduct that help guide young men and women in the direction of matrimony; the very concepts of “wooing” and “courting” seem archaic. Yet they see major discontent with the present situation and detect among their students certain longings—for friendship, for wholeness, for a life that is serious and deep, and for associations that are trustworthy and lasting—longings they do not realize could be largely satisfied by marrying well. Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Courting and Marrying is an anthology of source readings offered as a response to the contemporary cultural silence surrounding love that leads to marriage. It addresses important questions that emerge not from theory, but from practice: Why marry? Is this love? How can I find and win the right one to marry? What about sex? Why a wedding and the promises of marriage? What can married life be like? Using readings taken mainly from classic texts of Homer, Herodotus, Plato, Aquinas, Erasmus, Shakespeare, Rousseau, Austen, Tolstoy, C.S. Lewis, Miss Manners, and many others, this collection challenges our unexamined opinions, expands our sympathies, elevates our gaze. It offers a higher kind of sex education, one that prepares hearts and minds for romance leading to lasting marriage, and introduces us to possibilities open to human beings in everyday life that may be undreamt of in our current philosophizing. This unapologetically pro-marriage anthology is intended to help young people of marriageable age and their parents think about the meaning, purpose, and virtues of marriage and, especially, about finding the right person with whom to make a life.
Amy A. Kass (1940–2015) was an American academic and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. Kass spent most of her career as a professor of classic texts in the College of the University of Chicago. Her scholarly interests included courtship and marriage, civic engagement, citizenship and citizen formation, and philanthropy. She is the author of American Lives: Cultural Differences, Individual Distinction.
Leon R. Kass is Addie Clark Harding Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of Chicago and Hertog Fellow in Social Thought at the American Enterprise Institute. He was chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics from 2002 to 2005. He is the author of The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature and, with James Q. Wilson, The Ethics of Human Cloning.
“The wisdom contained in this anthology is well-suited to direct our judgments about how to live.” —Wall Street Journal
“A splendid collection that reminds us of what we are in danger of forgetting—the great Western tradition of marriage and courtship. The resources the Kasses have brought together are rich, complex, diverse, and often powerful.” —Jean Bethke Elshtain, Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Political and Social Ethics, The University of Chicago, and author of Democracy on Trial.
“Wing to Wing cannot help awaken a salutary awareness of our often contradictory desires. Most of all, it opens up vistas of human potential for our malnourished youth, stunted by years of gender theory, Fox TV, and parents who laugh at naked dorms.” —The Public Interest
“For many rich insights into the rewards of the common life, there is no better place to start than with this book.” —Commentary
“What once seemed self-evident connections between love and marriage are today obscured and widely denied. This book . . . is a corrective that both instructs and delights. In order to lift up the charms and complexities of man and woman’s need for each other, the Kasses enlist the help of Homer, Aquinas, Shakespeare, Austen, Tolstoy, C. S. Lewis, and a host of other worthies. Their extended introduction is rare wisdom distilled through their own marriage and in lively conversation with the best that has been thought and said about keeping faith with the promise of love. This is a book to return to again and again, tasting and testing the wondrous diversity of ways in which that promise has been, and can be, lived. There are also powerful cautionary tales about the tragic consequences of the promise betrayed. Highly recommended for both personal reflection and classroom use.” —First Things
“Reading this book is the next best thing to gaining a coveted seat in one of the University of Chicago seminars taught by Amy and Leon Kass. In an era when fashionable opinion speaks of courting and marrying in ironic tones or not at all, the Kasses do something unfashionable. They put us in touch with thinkers, past and present, who treat the task of finding and winning a marriage mate for what it is: a pursuit central to human life and happiness. At a time when young people are floundering and failing in their search for the right person to marry, this splendid selection of readings comes not a minute too soon.” —Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, author of The Divorce Culture: Rethinking Our Commitments to Marriage and the Family
“Here is a splendid introduction to the romance missing in our lives today: how to think about romance, how to control it, how to enjoy it.” —Harvey Mansfield, Professor of Government, Harvard University
“Man’s desire for woman and woman’s need of man are the beginning, middle, and end of the human story. In our current modern condition of deaf self-regard—and at God knows what cost—most of us pay scant attention to this story. In the present volume Leon and Amy Kass invite us precisely to stop and listen. They are healers, then, and at the same time in the most profound sense of the term they are also entertainers.” —Midge Decter, author of The New Chastity and Other Arguments Against Women’s Liberation
“Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar is essentially a Book of Virtues for lovers and lovers-to-be. It teaches a higher form of sex education—a form which cultivates awe for the depth and breadth of marital love while showing respect for the fragility of the human heart. Get your hands on the Kasses’ book and consider its wise counsel.” —USA Today
“‘Courting’ has long been archaic. ‘Marrying’ is threatening to become so. This book is not only a theoretical defense of the older concepts but a practical manual, a guide to the perplexed. The introduction alone, by Amy and Leon Kass, is worth the price of the book, and the readings, ranging from Homer to Miss Manners, are a fount of wisdom.” —Gertrude Himmelfarb, author of The De-Moralization of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values