Sunday, February 13, 2005

Other people's love stories

Ten authors voice their favourites: some obvious choices and some obscure picks too. A.S. Byatt once again convinces me to hunt down something I've never heard of (E. Arnot Robertson's Four Frightened People) — the woman has impeccable taste (not to mention talent).

Unsurprisingly, the Romantic Novelists' Association has voted Pride and Prejudice the most romantic novel of all time.

The greatest love story of all? Heloise and Abelard (which always reminds me of this movie):

The love stories that touch us most deeply are punctuated by human frailty. Look at them up close and you see the fault lines, compromises and anticlimaxes. At the beginning of Shakespeare's play, Romeo is just as intemperately in love with a girl called Rosaline as he is later with Juliet. Tristan and Isolde's passion could well be the fruit of substance abuse, of a love potion they drank unknowingly. And Abelard and Heloise? They weren't equally strong or passionate or generous. Still, they put their frailties together and begat a perfect myth, as well as something perhaps even more precious — a surprising, splendid, fractured reality. "There is a crack," the Leonard Cohen lyric goes, "a crack in everything: that's how the light gets in."
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