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The Double Flame: Love and Eroticism Paperback – June 1, 1996


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The Double Flame: Love and Eroticism + The Labyrinth of Solitude: The Other Mexico, Return to the Labyrinth of Solitude, Mexico and the United States, the Philanthropic Ogre + The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz: 1957-1987 (Bilingual Edition)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (June 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156003651
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156003650
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #329,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Nobel laureate Paz presents a humanist examination of the roles played by love and eros in modern life and society.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Originally published in Spanish (La llama doble, amor y erotismo, 1993), this work by the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature (1990) consists of reflections on the diverse manifestations of sex, eroticism, and love from ancient to contemporary times. Definitions are given: "Sex is the primordial source. Eroticism and love are forms derived from the sexual instinct: crystallizations, sublimations, perversions, and condensations which transform sexuality." From Plato and the great civilizations of antiquity to the modern period (including an examination of medieval courtly love and side excursions into Eastern approaches), the themes are studied through their literary and philosophical aspects. Paz bemoans today's commercialization of eroticism but optimistically posits that science is, after a centuries-long hiatus, returning to an examination of the ontological (and hence, moral) questions of love as part of being. This is an erudite, thought-provoking work, intended for readers acquainted with literary and philosophical traditions. Recommended for general collections serving a sophisticated clientele.
-?Charles E. Perry, East Central Univ., Ada, Okla.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Imagine writing a book on history of and about Love... mega subject...well Octavio has...!
Jakob H
I am a native Spanish speaker, and I was impressed at how well the English translation is for this book.
Born House hold
Paz emphasizes that love and eros are spiritual and give meaning to our lives and civilizations.
Joyce Åkesson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Uday Roy on November 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
The big bang of my holiday reading began with ever-enigmatic Octavio Paz's another master piece, "The Double Flame". A three hundred sixty degree recount of history and genre of Love & Eroticism. During his diplomatic job at India, being inspired by the Buddhist erotic statues of Karli (alas the other Mecca of history & culture that I never had a chance to visit), Octavio wanted to write a 100 page polemic on this subject. He waited almost 15 years. Finally in 1993, wrote this 276 page authoritative, eclectic, mesmerizing and fascinating book. I found Paz always dwells on this interesting issue. In his poems about India such as Mathura and Vridabaan, Octavio brings the erotic images of ancient India as living objects. But through this book only I discovered the depth and breath of his reading on this occult issue. Beginning with Plato's Symposium, Paz gives us a short history of love and eroticism in literature throughout the ages. From Greeko-Alexandria to Roman-Europe to Tantrik Bengal, Octavio swims us through every current and under current of human sexuality. To him, eroticism to sexuality is same as poetry to language. The courtly love in Heian Japan to twelfth century amorous lit of France, Paz is everywhere. It helped me understand Baudelaire better. It explains the erotic nuances of Madame Bovary and Ulysses. The Double Flame is translated to English by Helen Lane and published by Harcourt Brace & Company.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on August 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
"The Double Flame: Love and Eroticism," by Octavio Paz, is an impressive prose exploration of the title subject. The book has been translated from Spanish into English by Helen Lane.
In this extended multi-part essay, Paz considers the presence of love, eroticism, and related phenomena in literary works that span many cultures and centuries: the biblical Song of Songs, the writings of the Marquis de Sade, Joyce's "Ulysses," Murasaki Shikubu's "Tale of Genji," Mohammed Ibn Dawud's "Book of the Flower," the poems of Sappho, and much more. Paz also considers a wide range of other social and scientific phenomena that are relevant to his project: the "Big Bang" theory, the AIDS crisis, artificial intelligence, the Buddhist concept of Nirvana, the "Luciferian" movement in art, and more.
Occasionally, Paz seems to be a little too full of himself; he sometimes issues pronouncements on highly debatable points as if they were undebatable facts. But his overall passion and intelligence make these occasional lapses forgivable.
"The Double Flame" is also rich in what I call "Pazisms": characteristically witty, wise, and highly quotable statements. Here's one of my favorite Pazisms: "Love has been and is still the great act of subversion in the West" (from the 5th chapter, "A Solar System"). If you are interested in love and eroticism, in the art of nonfiction prose, or in Latin American literature, check out this book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mary Wendell on January 9, 2014
Format: Paperback
The ideas presented in this book are excitingly original! Never have I come across something quite like it. Octavio Paz made a promise to himself to dedicate one book exclusively to love, and just before his death, this masterpiece was finished. The Double Flame: Love and Eroticism explores the intimate connections between sex, eroticism, and love in literature throughout the ages and throughout the world.

I think Octavio imparts great wisdom and advice on the topic of love. In his opinion, love in the West is in true danger. Modern sexual freedom, according to Paz, has become a narcissistic pursuit and exercise in freedom, accompanied by the erosion of family and personal values. In Eastern cultures, love is conceived within a religion tradition. To restore that connection of love to the soul, he calls for a dialogue between science and philosophy.

This book has come at a perfect point in my life because I've been recovering from a truly obsessive love that he seems to understand. His poetry is healing and optimistic - all feelings have their meaning, as mysterious as they seem. Paz's preface alone inspired me greatly because even for a Nobel laureate, this work did not come easily for him. My healing path started when I took a friend up on reading Impossible Love: Or Why the Heart Must Go Wrong and it has been a strong journey of inner exploration ever since.

If you are ready for some (extra) love in your life - pick up this beautifully written book!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 24, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Spellbinding in its scope, the Double Flame strips humanity of every tradition and circumstance and presents it at its most ritual level, which is the act of love itself. In a nutshell, sex is the root, eroticism is the stem, and love is the flower that blooms as a result of the two. Octavio Paz simply gives it a soul, injecting new life into an entity that seems to grow more trivial as nature succumbs to change. Its a definite shot in the arm for an increasingly technocratic society.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
love is a wonderful mystery and this book takes a good love at all sides, from chinese and budhism, to western society and courtly love. this collection of essays is spellbounding and magnificent. it is reallly the work of a master at his best. this is the first time i read a book by him , but it certainly won't be the last. the scope of this book is enormous and it makes us feel that we are not alone in feeling a sensation we cannot fully account for. i recommend it for everybody, specially for the people who want to learn something in the art of living.
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