“The true University of these days is a Collection of Books.”
— Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), The Hero as a Man of Letters
Romance Books: desire, love, passion— you'll find them here...
Jon Stallworthy, Book of Love Poetry Jon Stallworthy (Editor), A Book of Love Poetry (1986), Oxford University Press, ISBN: 0195042328— From the civilization of Africa, Asia, America, and Europe, spanning more than two millennia, more poets have written more convincingly, more poignantly, about love than about any other subject. The author has selected some of the best love poems in the English language. Funny, sad, tender, and erotic, by jilted lovers and new lovers, lovers celebrating the love that has sustained them over long years, lovers looking for their ideal love, these poems show the many emotions inspired by love. More than 190 poets are represented in this collection, from Sappho and Hafiz to contemporaries as Amichai, Neruda and Paz. The book is divided into eight sections: Intimations, Declarations, Persuasions, Celebrations, Aberrations, Separations, Desolations, & Reverberations. Arranged thematically, beginning with the dawnings of young love and ending with the “long look back” of the aged, their poems illustrate man's changeless responses to the changing seasons of the heart. The book's cover of Gerard's Cupid & Psyche from the Louvre is just the first wave of love pouring to your heart. Avg. Review (2): 5 stars
Dante, La Vita Nuova Dante, La Vita Nuova (1985), translated by Barbara Reynolds, Viking Press, ISBN: 0140442162La Vita Nuova is a treatise by a poet, written for poets on the art of poetry. This reinterpretation by Barbara Reynolds allows the reader fresh insights into one of the world's greatest romantic poems. As his love for Beatrice flowers, Dante learns to surmount the barriers of medieval poetic convention and to write directly from experience. And in the prose commentary he recalls this experience, and describes its transmutation into poetry. When Dante writes in La Vita Nuova XX: “Love and the noble heart are but one thing” we see how the purity of his love for Beatrice has transformed him. His “new life” or spiritual rebirth has energized his mind and heart, so that he could honor his beloved with even more passion and devotion. The fruit of Dante's love for Beatrice is his epic poem The Divine Comedy— how through romance he was able to attain the beatific vision and enlightenment. La Vita Nuova is the poetic seed that should be planted and nourished in every lover's heart. In addition to the insightful introduction, the author includes notes on the text, elucidation of the poem's symmetrical structure, Dante's chronology, and index of the first lines of the 31 poems. This book is indeed a treasure for poets and lovers. 5 stars
Ron Hansen, Mariette in Ecstasy Ron Hansen, Mariette in Ecstasy (1992), HarperCollins, ISBN: 0060981180— The love and passion in this book is best summarized by its book cover showing a close-up of Bellini's Ecstasy of Saint Teresa of Avila. I was giving a writing workshop at Cupertino's Writers Connection on “Zen in the Art of Writing” when the subject of romance writing came up. A freelance writer in the class mentioned Hansen's Mariette in Ecstasy as the greatest romance book she's ever read. From her brief description of some of the erotic passages in the book, the attention of the entire class was aroused. This is an example of how powerful writing stirs the emotions. You'll find it all in this book about Mariette Baptiste, a 17-year old postulant's life as a religious contemplative in a New York priory in 1906. New York Times Book Review: “A luminous novel that burns a laser-bright picture into the reader's imagination, forcing one to reasses the relationship between madness and divine possession, gullibility and faith, sexual rapture and religious ecstasy... an astonishingly deft and provocative novel.” Avg. Review (15): 4.5 stars
Thomas Moore, Soul of Sex Thomas Moore, The Soul of Sex: Cultivating Life As an Act of Love (1999), HarperCollins (paper), ISBN: 0060930950— In this provocative and highly original work, the bestselling author of Care of the Soul and Soul Mates at last restores sex to its rightful place in the human psyche. Describing sex as an experience of the soul, Thomas Moore here brings out the fully human side of sex— the roles of fantasy, desire, meaning, and morality— and draws on religion, mythology art, literature, and film to show how sex contains the most profound mysteries. While finding the spirituality inherent in sex, Moore also explores how spiritual values can sometimes wound our sexuality. He recommends many ways in which society can tone down its moralism and create a public life that is erotic, one that affirms desire and pleasure. He interprets the media's obsession with sex as a symptom of our failure to weave sex into the whole of life, and spells out an Epicurean lifestyle where the simple pleasures of good food, friends, family, and intimacy with nature give our sexuality a broad and supportive base. Blending rather than opposing spirituality and sexuality, The Soul of Sex offers a fresh, livable way of becoming more deeply sexual and loving in all areas of life. Avg. Review (6): 4.5 stars
Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets (1986), Univ. of Texas Press, ISBN: 0292760280
“Two happy lovers make one bread, / a single moon drop in the grass. / Walking, they cast two shadows that flow together; / waking, they leave one sun empty in their bed.” This beautiful image from Neruda's Love Sonnet 48 is just one of the many delightful treats you'll savor from this book. Against the backdrop of Isla Negra— the sea and wind, the white sand with its scattering of delicate wild flowers, the hot sun and salty smells of the Pacific— Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda sets these joyfully sensual sonnets in celebration of his love— Matilde Urrutia de Neruda, the poet's beloved wife. This bilingual edition of 100 Love Sonnets reproduces the text of the 1959 Spanish original face-to-face with Stephen Tapscott's graceful English translation. Neruda's earthy sensuality and eroticism shine through on every page of this brilliant work. San Francisco Examiner review: “with its lush textures and effervescent lyricism, this book is like a smokey champagne which two lovers, mesmerized by each other's presence, are sipping.” Avg. Review (20): 5 stars
More Books on Romance...

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