Love by Simon May
A History

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Synopsis

Love—unconditional, selfless, unchanging, sincere, and totally accepting—is worshipped today as the West's only universal religion. To challenge it is one of our few remaining taboos. In this pathbreaking and superbly written book, philosopher Simon May does just that, dissecting our resilient ruling ideas of love and showing how they are the product of a long and powerful cultural heritage.

Tracing over 2,500 years of human thought and history, May shows how our ideal of love developed from its Hebraic and Greek origins alongside Christianity until, during the last two centuries, "God is love" became "love is God"—so hubristic, so escapist, so untruthful to the real nature of love, that it has booby-trapped relationships everywhere with deluded expectations. Brilliantly, May explores the very different philosophers and writers, both skeptics and believers, who dared to think differently: from Aristotle's perfect friendship and Ovid's celebration of sex and "the chase," to Rousseau's personal authenticity, Nietzsche's affirmation, Freud's concepts of loss and mourning, and boredom in Proust. Against our belief that love is an all-powerful solution to finding meaning, security, and happiness in life, May reveals with great clarity what love actually is: the intense desire for someone whom we believe can ground and affirm our very existence. The feeling that "makes the world go round" turns out to be a harbinger of home--and in that sense, of the sacred.
 

About Simon May

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Simon May is visiting professor of philosophy at King's College London, and Birkbeck, University of London.
 
Published July 19, 2011 by Yale University Press. 313 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Love

The New York Times

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New picture books starring the fire-breathing creatures.

Jun 15 2012 | Read Full Review of Love: A History

The New York Times

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There’s something of the instant classic about Barbara McClintock’s new book, “Adèle & Simon,” which follows two children in turn-of-the-century Paris who may remind you of Kay Thompson’s Eloise, if only in their cheerful lack of adult supervision.

Nov 12 2006 | Read Full Review of Love: A History

The New York Times

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One sentence ploddingly reads: “In rooms throughout England, men of vision were similarly hard at work.” Marx is described as “a man-child,” whose mind is “as hard and brilliant as a diamond.” Emperor Napoleon III, a shrewd politician whose career may have ended in disaster but who managed to dom...

Sep 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Love: A History

The Guardian

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Shakespeare, Sex & Love by Stanley Wells Buy it from the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop If there is any one aspect of Shakespeare's work that single...

Apr 24 2010 | Read Full Review of Love: A History

The Guardian

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It is about the way that an informed awareness of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds - or "classics", to use Simon Goldhill's preferred short-hand - and of their relation to our world is invaluable for our political and cultural awareness, and especially for our self-awareness.

Jul 03 2004 | Read Full Review of Love: A History

The Wall Street Journal

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When God died—that is, when Western intellectuals and artists of the 18th and 19th centuries began finding themselves unable to believe in the Christianity of their forebears or its deity—the idea took hold that in selfless love for another person one could find the same absolute intensity of fee...

Jul 16 2011 | Read Full Review of Love: A History

The Telegraph

In the five carefully crafted stories of Love .

Dec 24 2009 | Read Full Review of Love: A History

We Love This Book

Set into three sections – Boy Meets Girl, Boy Gets Girl, Boy Loses Girl – Simon Rich's collection of 30 short stories (ranging from a paragraph to a handful of pages in length) are creepy, blackly

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Red Room

Simon Van Booy, author of the short story collection Love Begins In Winter, writes with lyrical magic about the different forms of love and the range of result feelings it produces.

Jun 23 2009 | Read Full Review of Love: A History

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