LOVE'S COMPASS: A Natural History of the Heart by Daniel Mark Epstein

LOVE'S COMPASS: A Natural History of the Heart

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Trite thoughts on love and lust by a middle-aged playwright, essayist, and poet (Young Men's Gold, 1978). Little boys adore their mothers, fear their fathers, grudgingly put up with their sisters, and, upon reaching puberty, sometimes lust after girls before they love them--so reveals Epstein in relentlessly pompous, self-congratulatory prose as he leads the reader through his unremarkable childhood and a series of equally banal adult love affairs. Claiming an interest in the meaning of eroticism and its role in life, Epstein re-creates his feelings for former girlfriends in an unbearably sentimental light, bathing each ""saintly"" girl in the aura of his own fleeting attention until he unceremoniously dumps her in favor of the next love object on his list. How did his betrayals affect these women's own feelings about love? Epstein forgets to say, so preoccupied is he with claiming that the Sixties generation, of which he is a member, has experienced a major redefinition of love's doctrine and is thus ""weirdly special."" Upon hitting 40, Epstein realizes with sudden clarity that sex without love is less fulfilling than sex with love, even for a man. Content with his hard-won knowledge, he settles into his marriage (already nearly 20 years old), happy to direct his wife in the proper education of their children. Sentimental tributes to the little Epsteins fail to redeem this smug diatribe, however, as the paterfamilias brings his essays to an intellectually sloppy close. A romantic autobiography in which too much love is reserved for the author--and too little consideration paid the reader.

Pub Date: Feb. 26th, 1990
Publisher: Addison-Wesley