Alternative reads for Valentine’s Day

For cynics, Valentine’s Day is a mere commercial goldmine. For believers, it’s the perfect moment to devote to that most ancient of human emotions – love

As February 14 rolls ever closer, you can hardly fail to notice the growing presence of pink gift wrapping, red roses, cuddly toys and sentimental greetings cards in every shop window. But for those that want to delve a little deeper, Yale University Press would like to draw your attention to a collection of books devoted to love in all its forms.

From authors examining how this ethereal force is represented in art, to those bravely challenging its existence at all, the following books offer an alternative Valentine’s Day read, essential for both the cynic and believer…

The New Psychology of Love

Love…What is it? Can we define it? What is its role in our lives? What causes love, and what dooms it? No single theory adequately answers all our questions about the nature of love, yet there are many theories that can contribute to our understanding of it. This fascinating book presents the full range of psychological theories on love – biological, taxonomical, implicit and cultural. Focusing not on a single point of view but on the entire range of current theories, The New Psychology of Love provides today’s definitive account of the nature of love. Read More

The Pearl: A True Tale of Forbidden Love in Catherine the Great’s Russia

Filled with a remarkable cast of characters and set against the backdrop of 18th century imperial Russia, this tale of forbidden romance could be the stuff of a great historical novel. But in fact The Pearl tells a true tale, reconstructed in part from archival documents that have lain untouched for centuries. Douglas Smith presents the most complete and accurate account ever written of the illicit love between Count Nicholas Sheremetev, Russia’s richest aristocrat, and Praskovia Kovalyova, his serf and the greatest opera diva of her time. Read More

Faulkner and Love: The Women Who Shaped His Art

This book is about the making of the writer William Faulkner. It is the first to inquire into the three most important women in his life – his black and white mothers, Caroline Barr and Maud Falkner, and the childhood friend who became his wife, Estelle Oldham. In this new exploration of Faulkner’s creative process, Judith Sensibar discovers that these women’s relationships with Faulkner were not simply close; they gave life to his imagination. Sensibar alters and enriches our understanding of Faulkner’s art, and the complex world of the American South that came to life in his fiction, unveiling the darknesses, fears and unspokens of the American psyche. Read More

Art and Love in Renaissance Italy

Many famous Italian Renaissance artworks were made to celebrate love and marriage. This book is the first to examine the entire range of works to which Renaissance rituals of love and marriage gave rise and makes a major contribution to our understanding of Renaissance art in its broader cultural context. Some 140 works of art, dating from about 1400 to 1600, are discussed and reproduced in full colour. Read More

And Coming Soon…

Love: A History

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.  Read More

My faraway one (volume one)

There are few couples in the history of 20th-century American art and culture more prominent than Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz. Between 1915, when they first began to write to each other, and 1946, when Stieglitz died, O’Keeffe and Stieglitz exchanged over 5,000 letters that describe their daily lives in profoundly rich detail. This long-awaited volume features some 650 letters, carefully selected and annotated by leading photography scholar Sarah Greenough. In O’Keeffe’s sparse and vibrant style and Stieglitz’s fervent and lyrical manner, the letters describe how they met and fell in love in the 1910s; how they carved out a life together in the 1920s; how their relationship nearly collapsed during the early years of the Depression; and how it was reconstructed in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Read More

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  • February 14, 2011


    How about Valentine’s Day and bitter-sweet love that many in long-term relationships experience, as written about on blog.

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