Spanning the Middle Ages to the present, How the
French Invented Love explores a love-obsessed culture through its
great works of literature, interlacing the author’s charming personal anecdotes.
This fascinating history will particularly delight fans of Alain de Botton,
Adam Gopnik, and Simon Schama.
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Love occupies an honored place in the French sense of identity, on a par with
fashion, food, wine, and the rights of man. A Frenchman or woman without
amorous desire is considered defective, like someone missing the sense of smell
or taste. For hundreds of years, the French have championed themselves as
guides to the art of love through their literature, paintings, songs, and
cinema, yet no English book has seriously addressed the subject of French ideas
about love. No one has followed the roadmap of French literary landmarks, which
explore every nuance of love as it evolved over the centuries—until now.
In How the French Invented Love, acclaimed scholar Marilyn Yalom
distills her readings of French literary works and the memories of her
experiences in France to discover the central tenets of that culture’s gospel
of love. In the process, she examines almost a thousand years of divine culture
in search of the intimate moments that reveal how the particularly French
concept of l’amour has endured and evolved.