Love and Violence

The Vexatious Factors of Civilization

By Lea Melandri
Translated by Antonio Calcagno

Subjects: Feminist Philosophy, Continental Philosophy, Gender Studies, Psychoanalysis, Violence
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Italian Philosophy
Hardcover : 9781438472652, 168 pages, January 2019
Paperback : 9781438472645, 168 pages, January 2020

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Translator’s Introduction


1. The Body and the Polis

2. Loving Mothers

3. The Circle of Men

4. The Disquieting Slumber of the West

5. The Unstoppable Revolution


A critical, philosophical engagement of the psychological structures that propagate the continued oppression of women.


In this book, the Italian feminist thinker Lea Melandri argues that systemic violence against women has deep psychoanalytic roots. Drawing inspiration from the work of Freud and the psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Elvio Fachinelli, along with feminist practices of consciousness-raising, Melandri demonstrates how male dominance and female subservience are established by society through a binary and oppositional understanding of sex and gender. This understanding—and the oppression and violence against women that results—is inscribed in the psyches of both men and women, and is replicated anew from generation to generation. Melandri analyzes women in media, politics, philosophy, and literature to show how this plays out, and calls for awareness of these deep psychic structures and expectations formed within the dynamics of society and primary family relations.

Lea Melandri is one of Italy's best-known feminist thinkers and activists. She is the author of many books and continues to write and advocate for women's rights. In 2012, she was awarded by the city of Milan the Ambrogino d'oro, one of the city's highest honors. Antonio Calcagno is Professor of Philosophy at King's University College at Western University, Canada. He the editor of Contemporary Italian Political Philosophy and the coeditor (with Inna Viriasova) of Roberto Esposito: Biopolitics and Philosophy, both also published by SUNY Press.


"…a window into Italian feminist theory and history." — Los Angeles Review of Books

"This is a book by a seasoned, experienced, and quite committed Italian feminist thinker who has much to offer to our current context. Linking love and violence as she does, Melandri asks us to face the disturbing fact that deep, often almost atavistic, ties between son and mother, and then husband and wife, are the source both of intense bonds of love as well as furious clashes of hate and violent acting out. For this insight, and for the careful way she works out her argument in this book, Melandri should be read by an English-language audience, and this fine translation will provide the means for it to do so." — Rebecca West, University of Chicago