ABSTRACT

Writers on love undoubtedly and often betray themselves. Much of the best philosophical writing on love, accordingly, is quasi­ confessional-Stendhal’s romantic travelogue memoirs (On Love), Rousseau’s Reveries and various romantic pleas (Emile, New Heloise), Shakespeare’s Sonnets and several dramatic speeches, the letters between Heloise and Abelard, and Sappho’s poetic fragments. Typically, too, the philosophy of love gets semi­ fictionalized, for example, in D. H. Lawrence’s several analytic novels (notably Women in Love), more problematically in Chodoros Laclos’s Dangerous Liaisons, and in many recent “feminist” novels, such as Marilyn French’s The Women’s Room. Some texts present themselves as fun: Ovid’s Art of Love and Loves and, more recently, Henry Miller’s various Tropics. Some are both serious and self-undermining, such as Andreas Capellanus’s courtly revival of Ovidic seduction lessons in a Christian context that plainly forbade them. There are texts that are obvi­ ously polemical, such as de Rougemont’s Love in the Western World and C. S. Lewis’s Four Loves, which use love as a ramrod to break through the impious pretensions of the current century in pursuit of a larger agenda.