DREAMS OF LOVE AND FATEFUL ENCOUNTERS: The Power of Romantic Passion by Ethel S. Person

DREAMS OF LOVE AND FATEFUL ENCOUNTERS: The Power of Romantic Passion

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A no-nonsense anatomy of love, written by a psychiatrist delightfully well read in literature outside the psychoanalytic journals. Person has put together a readable and intelligent compendium of the myriad love plots of the 80's. She divides her work into five major sections--the experience, aims, struggles, gender-differences, and fate of love--looking in each at the psychological and cultural sources of the kinds of love we experience. She avoids the simple-mindedness of much pop-psychology; especially refreshing and provocative are the examples she plucks from literature and movies to flesh out predictable case-study anecdotes. Dante's Paolo and Francesca are a model of a triangular (in their case, adulterous) love plot. In a section on ""The Devouring Nature of Love,"" she quotes W.H. Auden on how men and women desire ""Not universal love/But to be loved alone."" And Person differs from many of her colleagues in her refusal to condemn romantic passion as always neurotic or destructive: ""The worst horrors of unhappy love should not blind us to the enrichment that may occur even in painful love."" She is neither a reductive pessimist nor a sentimental optimist, but a clear-thinking pragmatist, describing lovers as they are and not prescribing how they should be. Finally, while digging at the roots of love in early Oedipal relationships or in cultural dictates, she believes in the possibility for human nature to find transcendence through romantic love. Intelligent and illuminating.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1988
ISBN: 1585622400
Publisher: Norton