10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Love in the time of choler,
This review is from: A Vindication of Love: Reclaiming Romance for the Twenty-first Century (Hardcover)
Cristina Nehring navigates the rocky shoals between angry feminists and men honeslly confused by their movement to assert that we need a new time of "revived romantic hope...of fresh daring" between people who long for joy that love once seemed to promise to couples. She plumbs literature and literary biography to explore how love brought pain, joy, sorrow, and sublime engagement with life to her subjects, most of whom are from Western culture and the early modern world.
Her project is nothing less than to reinvent romantic love for the early 21st century, when we are often diverted by gender and power issues and a sense of triumphalism that sees marriage as the ultimate and only measure of success. (Not for a moment does she discount that wondrous outcome for many, however.)
It appears that Nehring's wellspring for her study may have come from her insight that "the more intelligent [women] are, the more ironical and distant [they] must be" to love's calling, its demands, its challenges. Au contraire, insists this American writer living in Paris: intelligent women are "excited by men."
For some of us, her chapter on "Love As Failure" may offer deep consolation over lives where love did not "succeed." She draws on the stories of Heloise and Abelard, Goethe's "Sorrows of Young Werther," and Ralph Waldo Emerson's love for Margaret Fuller. Each had its "brush with the sublime," she insists. Each partook of the "heroic and transcendent" nature of love, which we have lost and which she wants to "make honorable" again.
If you believe, or once did, that love held out a hope worthy of life itself, this book vindicates your belief. Argue against that proposition, if you will--but enjoy an inspiring argument, based in rich scholarship, and
presented in prose that doesn't miss a beat or a line.