Marjorie Garber
William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of English and of Visual and Environmental Studies Harvard University

Sex and Real Estate: Why We Love Houses

Sex and Real Estate is a witty, informative, and thought-provoking study of our complex relation to the ideas and actualities of house and home.

With vast erudition likely carried, Marjorie Garber – professor of English and director of the Humanities Center at Harvard University – ranges through literature, art, film, journalism, criticism, and the hard evidence of everyday experience, and gives us an acute analysis of the ways in which we think about the places we hang our hats. She discusses the House as Beloved (“Your house is the other person in your live,” declares an architectural designer.), as Mother (“the house, we would like to think, loves us.”), as Body (“both an ancient figure and a persistent desire”). She writes about the Dream House, the Trophy House (“We could call the purchasers of celebrity homes ‘house-groupies.’”), the House as History, and the Summer House (“When you’re seventeen, you dream of a summer romance. When you’re forty-seven, you dream of a summer home.”).

Each chapter is a superb, individually constructed essay. Taken together, they add up to an enlightening and challenging exploration of one of the most familiar – but also the most emotionally charged – elements of our lives.