Usha Sanyal
L'Amour en Plus by Elisabeth Badinter Flammarion, Paris, 1982, 374 pp., price not indi¬cated
May-June 1982, volume 6, No 6

Elisabeth Bandinter’s book (loosely translated as ‘The Myth of Motherhood’) raised a stormy controversy in France, has been denounced by psychologists, educationists and the clergy, and clearly deserves to be read. Unfor-tunately, at present the book is available to us in India only in French, and it is to be hoped that the English trans¬lation comes to this country soon. Because it is inacces¬sible to the general Indian reader on this account, an attempt has been made here to sketch the main themes of the book fairly fully. The question this study poses is, simply; is there such a thing as a natural maternal instinct, with its attendant values of love, protection and sacrifice for the child, or is not what we in the 20th century assume to be inborn and instinctive in a mother’s attitude to her child in fact a social value to which mothers of our times have been conditioned? In other words, do we have here a social fact, rather than a supposedly universal psycholo¬gical attribute? Badinter takes the reader through three cen¬turies of French history to examine the whole range of attitudes that have prevailed towards motherhood, child¬hood and parenthood.

Continue reading this review