February 14, 2012 – by Bethanie Blanchard
Guest Post by Rebecca Howden
When I’m trying to impress cute philosophy students, I’m likely to claim that my incurable romantic streak is some kind of Nietzschean theory, that capacity for joy and capacity for pain are so closely intertwined that to experience extreme happiness you have to take the extreme misery as well. But really, I just kind of like the melodrama that comes with wearing too much on my sleeve. Even if it ends in complete misery, the rush of falling in love is so exhilarating that the pain afterwards almost seems worth it.
Luckily, there’s no better therapy for the lovelorn than reading great literature. When it feels like nobody else in the world could possibly understand your unique form of heartbreak, it’s a peculiarly delicious comfort to indulge in Gothic romance and pretend you’re Catherine Earnshaw, all pale-faced and wild-haired in those wintry English moors. It’s comforting to share your loneliness with Jane Eyre, or torture yourself with the excruciating loveliness and despair of Pablo Neruda’s love poems, or channel your bitter jealousy through The End of the Affair.
But maybe there’s something to learn from those books as well. It might be a different era, a different culture, a different continent, but human feelings stay the same, and the games lovers play with each other’s heads and hearts stay the same too. A beautiful Victorian heroine might have been waiting feverishly for a letter to be couriered across the estates by a footman while I’m obsessively refreshing my Gmail, Facebook and Twitter accounts, but basically, we’re in the same boat.
And that’s just what Maura Kelly and Jack Murnighan explore in Much Ado About Loving: What Our Favourite Novels Can Teach You About Date Expectations, No-So-Great Gatsbys, and Love in the Time of Internet Personals. In an entertaining hybrid of literary criticism and dating advice, they trade off analyses of classic novels chapter by chapter to weave together stories of their own mistakes, bad dates and romantic disasters, alongside the slivers of insight they’ve gleaned from the nights spent in, wallowing in their loneliness and a good book.
Link here to Crikey for full review.
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