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Love's Work (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – May 31, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: New York Review Books Classics
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics (May 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590173651
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590173657
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #364,055 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“This beautiful memoir comes right from a genuinely thoughtful heart. It is good to find that philosophizing can offer its age-old consolations so present tensely.” 
—Elisabeth Young-Bruehl

“In its emphasis on the work of living, suffering, and loving, this is a masterpiece of the autobiographer’s art, intense and rationally decorous at the same time.” 
—Edward Said

“This is not a pastel reverie, but a work in which the author, an English philosopher, feminist, and Marxist, not only bares her soul but carefully dissects it…Rose develops by contrast her notion of love's work: the obligation to go on thinking and caring in spite of the certainty of physical and moral defeat. Gillian Rose died shortly after completing this rigorous and lyrical book.” —The Boston Review

“Powerful…a miracle.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Intriguing.” —Boston Globe

“Sears the page it occupies.” —Philadelphia Inquirer

“Extraordinary.” —Mirabella

“An autobiography of astonishing elegance and concision, it is also deeply lyrical; a love song and a work song.” —Michael Wood

“This beautiful memoir comes right from a genuinely thoughtful heart. It is good to find that philosophizing can offer its age-old consolations so present tensely.” —Elisabeth Young Bruehl

“In its emphasis on the work of living, suffering, and loving, this is a masterpiece of the autobiographer’s art, intense and rationally decorous at the same time.” —Edward Said

“Magnificent…Makes whatever else has been written on the deepest issues of human life by the philosophers of our time seem intolerably abstract and even frivolous.” —Arthur Danto

“This small book contains multitudes...It provokes, inspires, and illuminates more profoundly than many a bulky volume, and it delivers what its title promises, a new allegory about love.” —Marina Warner, London Review of Books

“Heartrendingly beautiful.” —The Times (London)

“A poetic and highly intellectual memoir that encourages us to read the mare's nest of grotesqueries that is our world of pain, illness, and trauma as a birthing-ground for the complex beauty of human relationships.” —Kirkus Reviews

“In a memoir by turns brilliant and exasperating, Rose...travels between the adjoining territories of love and death after being diagnosed with-and receiving brutal and ambiguously effective treatment for-abdominal cancer...It cuts to the quick.“ —Publishers Weekly

“Part intellectual coming-of-age tale and part spiritual memoir, Rose's search for the soul takes her on a wildly dizzying ride through despair and hope, sickness and healing, love and death.” —Library Journal

“I struggle to think of a finer, more rewarding short autobiography than this. Gillian Rose, professor of social and political thought at Warwick University, and dying of cancer at the age of 48, managed to complete and publish this before her time was up.” – Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian
  

About the Author

Gillian Rose (1947–1995), who is now recognized as one of the most important and influential critical thinkers of her time, was a British philosopher and writer. For many years she taught at Sussex University, drawing large numbers of research students, before she accepted a chair in social and political thought at Warwick University. Her major works, which ranged from Continental philosophy to Judaism, include The Melancholy Science, Hegel Contra Sociology, Dialectic of Nihilism, The Broken Middle: Out of Our Ancient Society, Judaism and Modernity, Mourning Becomes the Law, and Paradiso


Michael Wood teaches at Princeton and is the author, most recently, of Yeats and Violence.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steiner VINE VOICE on August 23, 2014
Format: Paperback
Gillian Rose was an extraordinary philosopher who thought and wrote extensively on Hegelian social philosophy, sociology, the Frankfurt School, and a myriad of other discourses. This brief text is her fragmentary memoir, written during the closing period of her struggle with ovarian cancer. Rose, with often voluptuously brilliant and oblique prose, renders her labors: her labor to develop intellectually, to find and sustain love, and finally, to reconcile her mortality with immanent divinity. Although unformed and probably incomplete at time, Love’s Work is a rarely personal account of a philosophical life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eric Treanor on February 26, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Matured by love, practised in the grief of its interminable exercise, I find myself back at the beginning."

Sadly, Gillian Rose was not at the beginning but at the end: she died of brain cancer shortly after writing those words. With or without that knowledge, the reader experiences her voice as nobly heartbroken: life is permeated with sadness; to live is to lose, in the end, everything.

But despair not! Rose was, after all, a working philosopher, and philosophy, she writes, offers real consolation in the face of life's losses, not unlike, in its hopefulness, the lips of the beloved. Among her ambitions in Love's Work is to offer a scathing defense of philosophy against postmodernism, which, she says, "renounces the modern commitment to reason." The postmodernist impulse to blame reason for the Holocaust, for example, demonstrates an inability "to perceive the difference between thought and being, thought and action." That inability represents a real threat to the future of civilization:

"[Postmodernists] proceed as if to terminate philosophy is to dissolve the difficulty of acknowledging conflict and of staking oneself within it. To destroy philosophy, to abolish or to supersede critical, self-conscious reason, would leave us resourceless to know the difference between fantasy and actuality, to discern the distortion between ideas and their realisation. It would prevent the process of learning, the corrigibility of experience. The ill-will towards philosophy misunderstands the authority of reason, which is not the mirror of the dogma of superstition, but risk."

And it's there, at risk, that Rose's link between philosophy and love becomes clear.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By las cosas on August 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
In summary I would describe this memoir as mystical, philosophical and earthy. It is also, unfortunately, humorless and overly intense.

The first part of this philosophical memoir is an examination of: events in the author's childhood, friendship, and in her maturation as a critically thinking woman. Her recollections are more granite than flowery, and while this is a book often tender in its descriptions, it is her intellect that is most fiercely etched in these recollections. She visits Jim, a friend who is dying of AIDS, and gives us her memories of his vitality and the uniqueness of his personality. He had created himself as a fully developed individual, a wonderful and unusual human being. And yet here he is sick, withering away. A young person like herself dying, and in that state of dying he is separate from her and everything else in the world that the two of them previously inhabited.

We also meet Edna, an elderly woman dying of cancer. "Edna was Jim's parting gift to me. She is an annunciation, a message, very old and very new." While Edna's life is undergoing the same curve towards death as Jim's, and contains its own share of unfairness, Edna inhabits her life with a very different philosophy and has learned different lessons in her difficult life than Jim, who took his youth and good looks and lust for granted, until in the gay men's world of the 1980s in New York, it all ended.

Ms. Rose was an Oxford trained philosopher, and strands of that training appear throughout this book as she struggles to understand the world around her. Struggling with dyslexia as a child in no way tempered her intellectual enthusiasm, her voracious thirst for knowledge, but "I had taught myself German...by reading the works of T. W.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Donald Weaver on July 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
I read this memoir when it originally came out and was captivated. If I could take only one book with me onto a desert island, it might be this small volume. It combines a deep expression of human emotion along with a strong intellectual bent. The chapters on her illness and her love affair are deeply moving.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S. Matthews on October 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is touching, though slight. The reviews I read, which made me want to read it, suggested it was more philosophical than it is. Gillian Rose may have been a philosopher by training, but 'Loves Work' is not a philosophy book, it's an elegaic reflection on death and its relation to life (and it remarkably manages to be suffused with death without being morbid) and the principle that 'the only serious enterprise is living'. Which may be a thought by - ironically - an oxford philosopher, but is not really a philosophical thought, just a human one. In fact, I probably finished this even less convinced than when I started, of the value of the sort of philosophy that Rose believed in. This was, I think, the saddest thing I took away.
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