Eva Illouz

Hard-Core Romance - "Fifty Shades of Grey," Best-Sellers, and Society

literal translation of original German Title: The New Love Order. Women, Men, and Shades of Grey
(German title: Die neue Liebesordnung)
ca. 88 pages
Eva Illouz
Foto: Eva Illouz
© Susanne Schleyer

Eva Illouz, born in 1961 in Morocco, is Professor at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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English world rights (Chicago UP), Spanish world rights (Katz), France (Seuil), Italy (Mimesis), Netherlands (De Bezige Bij), Poland (PWN); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Korea (Dolbegae)


E.L. James’ BDSM trilogy Shades of Grey was an enormous success worldwide, particularly with women. But why? Because of the allegedly pornographic content? Because it was backed by a cleverly formulated marketing strategy?

Underlying Eva Illouz’s reading of the trilogy is her thesis that some books become bestsellers because they simultaneously demonstrate and solve an existing and prevalent socio-cultural problem. For Illouz, Shades of Grey is neither »mommy-porn« nor an anti-feminist creation, but instead it functions as a well-made guidebook that shows how the paradoxes of a contemporary heterosexual love affair may be practically overcome.


»A reasoned, thoughtful examination of gender relations, women’s desires, and the role of passion in contemporary society. […] Vital and interesting.« Los Angeles Review of Books

»When Hard-Core Romance came out in Germany in 2011, this analysis of the ›modern romantic experience‹ sold tens of thousands of copies. One assumes at first that this must have been due to the subject, the title and the candy pink cover of the German edition […] But whoever reads this work will recognize the seriousness of its analysis and its refusal to pander.« Le Monde

»Illouz rightly tags the trilogy a species of self-help.« New Republic

»Compellingly audacious.« Times Higher Education

»A provocative text in its own right, Hard-Core Romance inventively employs the much-maligned Fifty Shades of a Grey to stage a philosophical and sociological conversation about relationship between fantasy, romance, sexuality, and popular literature. In a modern era where competing desires for autonomy and attachment in sexual relationships are lived realities but seldom theorized, Illouz bravely takes on the novel’s controversial sexual practices, finding in them a meditation on the anxieties and compromises that characterize heterosexual intimacy. This generous and original reading offers the tantalizing prospect that it will unveil the uncertainties and indeterminacies that inhere in the heterosexual compact—a promise that Hard-Core Romance masterfully delivers.« Suzanne Leonard, author of Fatal Attraction

»Hard-Core Romance is a wonderfully creative piece of cultural analysis. Writing from a feminist-sociological perspective, Eva Illouz tells us how Fifty Shades of Grey became an international bestseller by providing fantasy resolutions to real-life female dilemmas, and self-help for the douleurs of contemporary heterosexuality. A most timely intervention.« Laura Kipnis, author of How to Become a Scandal

»[T]he first serious, book-length academic analysis of the Fifty Shades of Grey The Millions

Other publications

Warum Liebe endet/The End of Love (2018)

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English world rights (Oxford UP), Spanish world rights (Katz), Chinese complex rights (Linking), Russia (Directmedia), France (Seuil), Italy (Codice), Netherlands (Ten Have), Sweden (Daidalos), Korea (Dolbegae), Greece (Ekdoseis tou Eikostou Protou), Israel (Modan)

Die große Regression/The Great Regression (2017)

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English world rights (Polity), Spanish world rights (Seix Barral), Catalan rights (Grup 62), Chinese simplex rights (Horizon), Brazilian Portuguese rights (Estação Liberdade), Korea (Sallim), Portugal (PRH – Objectiva), France (Premier Parallèle; Paperback Sublicense: Gallimard Folio), Italy (Feltrinelli), Netherlands (Atlas|Contact), Czech Republic (Rybka), Bulgaria (KX Critique & Humanism), Romania (ART), Turkey (Metis)

Warum Liebe weh tut/Why Love Hurts (2011)

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Spanish world rights (Katz), Chinese simplex rights (East China Normal UP), Chinese complex rights (Linking), Russia (Directmedia), Brazilian Portuguese rights (Zahar), Arabic world rights (Page Seven), France (Seuil), Italy (Il Mulino), Netherlands (De Bezige Bij), Sweden (Daidalos), Korea (Dolbegae), Japan (Fukumura Shuppan), Poland (Krytyka Polityczna), Romania (Art), Croatia (Planetopija), Serbia (Psihopolis Institut), Turkey (Zen), Greece (Ekdoseis tou Eikostou Protou), Israel (Keter)

Gefühle in Zeiten des Kapitalismus/Cold Intimacies (2006)

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English world rights (Polity), Spanish world rights (Katz), Brazilian Portuguese rights (Jorge Zahar), Arabic world rights (Page Seven), France (Seuil), Italy (Feltrinelli), Korea (Dolbegae), Japan (Kong Shuppan), Poland (Oficyna Naukowa), Slovenia (Krtina), Turkey (Iletisim), Greece (Oposito), Israel (Hakkibutz Hamecheud)