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Books  >>  History

Marilyn Yalom

How the French Invented Love

Marilyn Yalom How The French Invented Love Nine Hundred Years Of Passion And Romance
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Main description:

Oh, how the French love love! For hundreds of years, they have championed themselves as guides to the art de l'amour through their literature, paintings, songs, and cinema. A French man or woman without amorous desire is considered defective, like someone missing the sense of smell or taste. Now revered scholar Marilyn Yalom intimately examines the tenets of this culture's enduring gospel of romance.

Basing her delightfully erudite findings on her extensive readings of French literature, as well as memories of her personal experiences in la belle France, Yalom explores the many nuances of love as it has evolved over the centuries, from the Middle Ages to the present. Following along, step-by-step, on her romance-tinged literary detective hunt, the reader discovers how the French invented love, how they have kept it vibrant for more than nine centuries, what is unique in the French love experience, and what is universal.

Review quote:

“[An] amiable tour through changing French attitudes toward love during the past millennium....Engaging.”

Review quote:

How the French Invented Love is absolutely marvelous, so lively and learned....Marilyn Yalom’s book is a distinguished contribution to our experience of a great literature, as well as an endearing memoir.”

Review quote:

“By the end of this book, it is hard not to feel both breathless and dowdy. Am I living sufficiently by my passions? Shouldn’t my husband be making more declarations? Perhaps the French are on to something.”

Review quote:

“Enchanting….At the heart of this delicious book is Yalom the reader, whose fascination with the French way of love and pleasure in sharing her enthusiasms is highly contagious. Readers will want to run to the library and stay there for a year, reading everything she deconstructs.”

Review quote:

“Marilyn Yalom combines a witty and conversational style with impressive erudition….[She] is no misty-eyed idealist when it comes to love, or to the French, but her personal involvement in the story is part of the charm of this highly readable book.”

Review quote:

“Marilyn Yalom is a charming guide on an exploration of desire, romance, sex and passion à la française. Like a detective on a steamy case, Yalom digs through literature and life, uncovering the mysteries of l’amour. How the French Invented Love will surely seduce you.”

Review quote:

“Marilyn Yalom reclaims her enchantment with love stories from France. She explores the mysteries and complexities of love as they have been bequeathed by the French from centuries of their literature....She goes beyond the recognizable clichés to offer a comprehensive study, a rich psychological and cultural survey.”

Review quote:

“Marilyn Yalom’s new study, How the French Invented Love: Nine Hundred Years of Passion and Romance, reaches beyond the stereotypes by focusing on literature, making an erudite, elegant, and charming case for France’s love ‘invention.’”

Review quote:

“Seductive and fascinating. Marilyn Yalom is the perfect companion for this delightfully candid tour de l’amour.”

Review quote:

“The author employs an enjoyably downright style, blending in her own experiences in France over the course of 60 years as well as the personal stories of French friends. . . . Her first-person confidences give this an engagingly informal tone.”

Review quote:

“This superbly realized and wonderfully engaging work of analytical cultural history creates a class by itself.”

Short description/annotation:

“Absolutely marvelous…lively and learned….Marilyn Yalom’s book is a distinguished contribution to our experience of a great literature, as well as an endearing memoir.”
—Diane Johnson, author of Lulu in Marrakech and Le Divorce

“[An] enchanting tour of French literature—from Abelard and Heloise in the 12th century to Marguerite Duras in the 20th and Philippe Sollers in the 21st.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

How the French Invented Love is an entertaining and masterful history of love à la française by acclaimed scholar Marilyn Yalom. Spanning the Middle Ages to the present, Yalom explores a love-obsessed culture through its great works of literature—from Moliere’s comic love to the tragic love of Racine, from the existential love of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre to the romanticism of George Sand and Alfred de Musset. A thoroughly engaging homage to French culture and literature interlaced with the author’s delicious personal anecdotes, How the French Invented Love is ideal for fans of Alain de Botton, Adam Gopnik, and Simon Schama.


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