Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Love stories

A "bouquet of writers" considers romantic books as Valentine's Day approaches.

They offer samplings of poetry including Shakespeare and Neruda, of course. The cases are made for Possession, Love in the Time of Cholera, Rebecca — though none of these inspires in me the feeling of walking on air, that lump in one's throat, butterflies in one's stomach, weak in the knees.

(No one mentions Mark Darcy.)

I don't read many romances. I look at my shelves and I see the romance of ideas and travel, music and books, some great passions and idle flirtations. There's the closeness of families and between strangers, the fraternal love of humankind, and a few sexual escapades. But almost none about Love, the love this holiday devotes itself to.

Here are a few titles — I have fond recollections of the reading of them, being swept up in their romance:

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, by Oscar Hijuelos: about; excerpt.

An Equal Music, Vikram Seth: about; excerpt.

Music and Silence, by Rose Tremain: review; excerpt.

(Oh! I just noticed: they're all about music!)

I have to mention Mad Love, by André Breton. Not a love story, but by turns meditation and manifesto of love, beauty, and everyday objects. The love of women, of children, and of Paris. The love that inspires one to say "I want you to be madly loved." (Maybe I include this book here only because it was a gift from a lover who was in love with making grand romantic gestures.)

My very favourite love story, as much for its words and characters as for all the associations (of yet other loves) I have inextricably woven into it over the years: The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera. The romance of a place, an era, and ideologies. The soul and the body. Love in its unbearable lightness and infinite weight.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Woo-hoo! Kundera! Didn't I just mention him yesterday? This is clearly a sign that I need to trot over to the library today.

I was always partial to Pride and Prejudice as a love story, but I know it's not to everyone's tastes. I'm seeing a dearth of love stories on my shelves as well...

--R

Anonymous said...

Middlemarch! Middlemarch counts! It contains multiple love stories, in fact.

(sorry to post twice! I guess you know it's a good blog entry when I keep thinking about it all day)

--R

Suzanne said...

The romance in Corelli's Mandolin has stayed with me over the years, despite the book's ridiculous, logic-defying ending. I was truly caught up in the main characters' relationships, and not just with each other---their relationships with the other residents of the island and with the occupying Italian soldiers were equally heart-breaking.

Anonymous said...

Love stories, I'm realizing, are everywhere; but when it comes to fiction, as in life, it's not always the point of things. That genre dedicated to the telling of those stories I still tend to denigrate.

Part of me really DID like Pride and Prejudice, but I still think of its women as gossipy and petty (though I can appreciate the social historical context). We should be above all that. I do find a guilty pleasure in it (and Bridget Jones).

Middlemarch counts. I think. I haven't read it. Yet. It's been on my must-read list for over a decade. This is the year.

Though I was initially intrigued by Captain Corelli's Mandolin, its ensuing popularity turned me off. I'll have to reconsider.

Isabella said...

That's not anonymous, that's me.