Sex in history, by Gordan Rattray Taylor

I should like to take this opportunity to thank Columbia University Press for permission to quote the passages from “The Art of Courtly Love” which appear in the chapter “Pure Desire” , and to express my gratitude to the Keeper of Printed Books at the British Museum and to the Reading Room staff for generous advice and help in obtaining material. I also wish to thank the various persons who have read the book in manuscript or in proof, and have enabled me to eliminate various errors.


Author’s Note, May 1969


Fifteen Years after the foregoing was written, the analysis still holds water: the pendulum has swung still further towards matrism, in the U.S. and other western countries. As predicted, the clothes of the two sexes have become still more closely assimilated: the wearing of jewellery, longer hair, etc., by men in the younger age groups exactly fits the analysis.More importantly, there has been a marked extension of sexual permissiveness. Lack of superego restraint also manifests as violence, the rejection of the father as a revolt against authority (cf: the student revolt). But it is a balanced integration of the Matrist and Patrist elements that marks a healthy and constructive society. Soon we shall be as far from that happy mean on the Matrist side as we formerly were on the Patrist side. Eventually, I imagine, a violent reaction towards austerity and control will occur. How can we halt the pendulum in the middle—that is the burning question.

May, 1969 —G.R.T.