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In this classic work, often described as "The History of the Rise, Decline, and Fall of the Love Affair," Denis de Rougemont explores the psychology of love from the legend of Tristan and Isolde to Hollywood. At the heart of his ever-relevant inquiry is the inescapable conflict in the West between marriage and passion—the first associated with social and religious responsi In this classic work, often described as "The History of the Rise, Decline, and Fall of the Love Affair," Denis de Rougemont explores the psychology of love from the legend of Tristan and Isolde to Hollywood. At the heart of his ever-relevant inquiry is the inescapable conflict in the West between marriage and passion—the first associated with social and religious responsiblity and the second with anarchic, unappeasable love as celebrated by the troubadours of medieval Provence. These early poets, according to de Rougemont, spoke the words of an Eros-centered theology, and it was through this "heresy" that a European vocabulary of mysticism flourished and that Western literature took on a new direction. Bringing together historical, religious, philosophical, and cultural dimensions, the author traces the evolution of Western romantic love from its literary beginnings as an awe-inspiring secret to its commercialization in the cinema. He seeks to restore the myth of love to its original integrity and concludes with a philosophical perspective on modern marriage.


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In this classic work, often described as "The History of the Rise, Decline, and Fall of the Love Affair," Denis de Rougemont explores the psychology of love from the legend of Tristan and Isolde to Hollywood. At the heart of his ever-relevant inquiry is the inescapable conflict in the West between marriage and passion—the first associated with social and religious responsi In this classic work, often described as "The History of the Rise, Decline, and Fall of the Love Affair," Denis de Rougemont explores the psychology of love from the legend of Tristan and Isolde to Hollywood. At the heart of his ever-relevant inquiry is the inescapable conflict in the West between marriage and passion—the first associated with social and religious responsiblity and the second with anarchic, unappeasable love as celebrated by the troubadours of medieval Provence. These early poets, according to de Rougemont, spoke the words of an Eros-centered theology, and it was through this "heresy" that a European vocabulary of mysticism flourished and that Western literature took on a new direction. Bringing together historical, religious, philosophical, and cultural dimensions, the author traces the evolution of Western romantic love from its literary beginnings as an awe-inspiring secret to its commercialization in the cinema. He seeks to restore the myth of love to its original integrity and concludes with a philosophical perspective on modern marriage.

30 review for Love in the Western World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Vesna

    It is one of my favourite books. In this classic work, often described as "The History of the Rise, Decline, and Fall of the Love Affair," Denis de Rougemont explores the psychology of love from the legend of Tristan and Isolde to Hollywood. At the heart of his ever-relevant inquiry is the inescapable conflict in the West between marriage and passion--the first associated with social and religious responsiblity and the second with anarchic, unappeasable love as celebrated by the troubadours of me It is one of my favourite books. In this classic work, often described as "The History of the Rise, Decline, and Fall of the Love Affair," Denis de Rougemont explores the psychology of love from the legend of Tristan and Isolde to Hollywood. At the heart of his ever-relevant inquiry is the inescapable conflict in the West between marriage and passion--the first associated with social and religious responsiblity and the second with anarchic, unappeasable love as celebrated by the troubadours of medieval Provence. These early poets, according to de Rougemont, spoke the words of an Eros-centered theology, and it was through this "heresy" that a European vocabulary of mysticism flourished and that Western literature took on a new direction. Bringing together historical, religious, philosophical, and cultural dimensions, the author traces the evolution of Western romantic love from its literary beginnings as an awe-inspiring secret to its commercialization in the cinema. He seeks to restore the myth of love to its original integrity and concludes with a philosophical perspective on modern marriage.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Suzannah

    Most of the bits that didn't fly right over my head were very, very good. More to come...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Wu Shih

    Qui, dunque, parliamo d’amore. Il punto di partenza del testo di de Rougemont è il racconto classico di Tristano e Isotta, individuato dall’autore come snodo fondamentale, cesura rispetto al passato, mito fondante di una nuova cultura. Con esso si delineano una volta per tutte, con una straordinaria resistenza attraverso i secoli, le tappe e l’idea di passione alla base dell’amore cosiddetto romantico. Si tratta infatti di un mito ancora alla base delle nostre credenze attuali e che serve a cela Qui, dunque, parliamo d’amore. Il punto di partenza del testo di de Rougemont è il racconto classico di Tristano e Isotta, individuato dall’autore come snodo fondamentale, cesura rispetto al passato, mito fondante di una nuova cultura. Con esso si delineano una volta per tutte, con una straordinaria resistenza attraverso i secoli, le tappe e l’idea di passione alla base dell’amore cosiddetto romantico. Si tratta infatti di un mito ancora alla base delle nostre credenze attuali e che serve a celare l’oscuro segreto della civiltà occidentale. Scrive l’autore: “Abbiamo bisogno di un mito per esprimere il fatto oscuro e inconfessabile che la passione è legata alla morte, e ch’essa porta con sè la distruzione per coloro che vi si abbandanona con tutte le forze. La verità è che noi vogliamo salvare questa passione, e che amiamo teneramente questa sventura ad onta che le nostre morali ufficiali e la nostra ragione le condannino”. Un mito che, ripercorso attraverso i secoli, troviamo cantato dai Trovatori medievali, imbevuto dell’atmosfera dell’eresia Catara, superato dall’Illuminismo e riaffermato con il Romanticismo, pervade ancora oggi la nostra filosofia dell’amore e stimola concretamente le nostre vite in una ben peculiare direzione contraria agli interessi della razionalità e della morale sociale. L’importanza di questa idea pervicace, quasi un’atmosfera maligna, che respiriamo ogni giorno non va sottovalutata, essa è dappertutto e agisce sulle nostre vite di ogni giorno: “Il mito agisce ovunque la passione è sognata come un ideale, non già temuta come una febbre maligna; ovunque la sua fatalità sia chiamata, invocata, immaginata come una bella e desiderabile catastrofe, e non già come una catastrofe. Esso vive della vita stessa di coloro i quali credono che l’amore sia un destino; che piombi sull’uomo impotente e travolto per consumarlo in un puro fuoco; e che sia più forte e più vero della felicità, della società, della morale”. Su questo aspetto de Rougemont è inflessibile: ribadisce più volte la sua antipatia verso la forma di amore chiamata Eros, che secondo lui nasconde sotto le apparenze di vita una spinta verso il caos e la morte. Giunge perfino a definirlo come forma travisata di amore, falsa e meschina, solo una passione egoistica che si configura come desiderio di assoluto, di una vita migliore, una ricerca inutile di un senso di pienezza che invero si potrà trovare solo nella morte, e che non riesce a generare nè comunione nè comprensione con l’altro bensì un senso di chiusura ed isolamento. Scrive: “Tristano e Isotta non si amano, l’hanno detto e tutto lo conferma. Ciò che essi amano, è l’amore, è il fatto stesso di amare […] Tristano ama di sentirsi amato, ben più che non ami Isotta la bionda. E Isotta non fa nulla per trattenere Tristano presso di sè: le basta un sogno appassionato. Hanno bisogno l’uno dell’altro per bruciare, ma non dell’altro com’è in realtà; e non della presenza dell’altro ma piuttosto della sua assenza” E ancora: “Duplice infelicità della passione che fugge il reale e la Norma del Giorno, essenziale infelicità dell’amore: ciò che si desidera di più non lo si possiede ancora (è la Morte) mentre si perde ciò che si aveva (il godimento della vita). Ma questa perdita non è sentita come un impoverimento; tutt’al contrario. Ci si immagina di vivere di più, più pericolosamente, più grandiosamente. La vera ragione è che l’avvicinarsi della morte è lo stimolo della sensualità”. E non è finita qui: afferma anche che spesso ricerchiamo l’ostacolo alla passione in quanto tale, perchè è proprio la difficoltà a rianimare il sentimento, a toglierci dalla noia che ci tormenta e che riesce nel contempo a farci provare, sotto la nostra vergognosa coltre di insensibilità, qualche insperata sensazione. Concludendo, de Rougemont crede che nella nostra epoca si confondino due morali, oramai entrambe svuotate di senso e che da qui nasca la nostra confusione nel campo delle relazioni amorose: “Secondo me, il presente stato di immoralità si spiega con il confuso antagonismo di due morali in seno al quale noi viviamo: di queste una è ereditata dall’ortodossia religiosa, ma non si appoggia più su una fede viva, e l’altra deriva da un’eresia la cui espressione essenzialmente lirica ci perviene del tutto profanata, e per conseguenza snaturata. […] Tutti gli adolescenti della borghesia occidentale sono educati nell’idea del matrimonio, ma al tempo stesso si trovano tuffati in un’atmosfera romantica” La soluzione del dilemma, per de Rougemont, sta nell’amore vissuto come una scelta e non come un destino, solo chi mantiene la padronanaza di sè si può definire persona invece che marionetta nelle mani di forze che non comprende: “Chiamerò libero un uomo che possiede se stesso. Ma l’uomo della passione, al contrario, ceca di essere posseduto, spogliato, gettato fuor di sè medesimo, nell’estasi”. Quindi l’amore deve mantenere, necessariamente, una distanza dal fuoco della passione e trasformarsi in Agape, l’amore disinteressato ma smisurato verso il prossimo, che viene utilizzato nella teologia cristiana per indicare l’amore di Dio nei confronti dell’umanità. Per quanto sia consapevole che la scelta di condividere la propria vita con un’altra persona sia una scommessa, essa va assunta come decisione e portata con impegno fino al suo compimento, assicurando fedeltà e cura nonostante le difficoltà e le tentazioni: “Per me, rinunciando senz’altro a qualsiasi appoggio razionalista o edonista, non parlerò che di una fedeltà osservata in virtù dell’assurdo, perchè ci si è impegnati, semplicemente, e perchè si tratta di un fatto assoluto, sul quale si fonda la persona stessa degli sposi. La prima cosa che salta all’occhio è che questa fedeltà va contro la corrente dei valori venerati oggidì da tutti. Essa rappresenta il più profondo non conformismo”. Ai posteri l’ardua sentenza.

  4. 4 out of 5

    An Idler

    This is a difficult book, as you may expect for a work of moral philosophy translated from the French and written by a student of Kierkegaard and Barth. It's also the kind of work that I imagine gives literature majors a sense of justification, for in it de Rougemont outlines the ability of myth to have coercive power over us across centuries; literature is the path downward from myth to manners. In de Rougemont's view, myth and literature express realities (not necessarily truths) and have acti This is a difficult book, as you may expect for a work of moral philosophy translated from the French and written by a student of Kierkegaard and Barth. It's also the kind of work that I imagine gives literature majors a sense of justification, for in it de Rougemont outlines the ability of myth to have coercive power over us across centuries; literature is the path downward from myth to manners. In de Rougemont's view, myth and literature express realities (not necessarily truths) and have active capability to shape our consciousness and our civilization. By the end of the last chapter, even a skeptic of literature's power will be looking over his shoulder and feeling uneasy about the real independence of his rationalism. A summary of de Rougemont's argument can be found elsewhere. But he traces sources of our understanding of love to ancient religious impulses and heretical doctrines of the 12th century, stripped of its religious content through transmission as metaphors by the poets of courtly love and other writers all the way down through Wagner to pop novels and films of the middle of the 20th century. He makes passing arguments about materialism, formal modes of culture (e.g. chivalry), the nature of war, etc. It's an ambitious book written in an authoritative manner. de Rougemont doesn't quote other arguments because he is busy making them himself, freshly, on the basis of his own observations and insights. It definitely gives the experience of "some watcher of the skies / When a new planet swims into his ken." And his theory begs to be put into service immediately as we try to understand what is going on in our own hearts, and what assumptions lie behind the behavior of others in the society. Very worthwhile reading.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stela

    Am citit undeva că eseul lui Denis de Rougemont ar fi prima operă care analizează extensiv iubirea. Nu am verificat afirmaţia dar, deşi îmi vin în minte şi alte opere, ca Despre pasiunile sufletului a lui Descartes sau Despre iubire a lui Stendhal, Iubirea şi Occidentul rămîne cartea pe care aş recomanda-o în primul rînd celor interesaţi de acest subiect surprinzător de puţin studiat, dacă ne gîndim că nimeni n-a contestat încă adevărul celebrei afirmaţii danteşti despre iubirea care mişcă soare Am citit undeva că eseul lui Denis de Rougemont ar fi prima operă care analizează extensiv iubirea. Nu am verificat afirmaţia dar, deşi îmi vin în minte şi alte opere, ca Despre pasiunile sufletului a lui Descartes sau Despre iubire a lui Stendhal, Iubirea şi Occidentul rămîne cartea pe care aş recomanda-o în primul rînd celor interesaţi de acest subiect surprinzător de puţin studiat, dacă ne gîndim că nimeni n-a contestat încă adevărul celebrei afirmaţii danteşti despre iubirea care mişcă soarele şi celelalte stele. Premisa eseului scriitorului elveţian este provocatoare: căsătoria şi iubirea nu sînt compatibile. Pentru a o demonstra, autorul pleacă de la mitul lui Tristan şi al Isoldei aşa cum apare el în literatura trubadurilor din secolul al XII-lea, mit care ar revela, pe de o parte, că o întreagă literatură s-a născut de pe urma crizei căsătoriei şi pe de altă parte că amorul-pasiune nu este iubirea de celălalt, ci de iubirea în sine. Denis de Rougemont pune aşadar în antiteză cele două concepte, afirmînd că au origini diferite: amorul pasiune a fost inventat de tradiţia cavalerească (care, după cum vom vedea, ascultă de credinţe misterioase, eretice), în timp ce instituţia căsătoriei a fost consolidată obiceiurile feudale (legitimate de Biserică). Această dihotomie ar putea lămuri nu numai unele contradicţii sau aparente inconsistenţe din mit, ci şi idealizarea cuplului, căci Tristan e prezentat de poeţii secolului al XII-lea, atât de exigenţi atunci cînd era vorba de onoare, de fidelitate faţă de suzeran, ca un model de cavalerism, iar Isolda ca o doamnă plină de virtute. De fapt, condamnarea căsătoriei de către iubirea-pasiune este reflectată într-un dublu conflict: tematic, intrinsec operei, între tradiţia cavalerească şi obiceiurile feudale, care transformă baronii, în fond apărători ai onoarei regelui conform legilor moralei feudale, în „necredincioşi" care trădează tainele iubirii curteneşti, conform legilor iubirii din Gasconia; şi extern, al epocii, între fidelitate şi căsătorie, în contextul în care aceasta din urmă devenise un simplu prilej de îmbogăţire şi se dezlega foarte uşor de Biserică (cel mai invocat motiv fiind incestul – se descoperea brusc că mirii sunt rude de gradul patru). Iubirea-pasiune a apărut în Occident ca o repercusiune a creştinismului (şi în special a doctrinei sale referitoare la căsătorie) asupra sufletelor în care subzista un păgînism firesc sau moştenit.(s. a.) Aplecîndu-se asupra izvoarelor religioase ale mitului, Denis de Rougemont emite o teorie care a dat naştere unor interminabile polemici, aceea că mitul lui Tristan ar putea fi interpretat ca o alegorie a credinţei catarilor, sectă religioasă de la care ne-au rămas foarte puţine informaţii, dar care, între altele, se opunea atît căsătoriei cît şi procreaţiei, considerate ca legi impuse de Prinţul întunericului cu scopul de a ţine sufletele încarcerate în trupul efemer. În această alegorie „Doamna” este o noţiune abstractă, nostalgia spre absolut. După ce trece în revistă aspectele erosului în platonism, druidism, maniheism şi succesorul lor catarismul, credinţe pentru care Erosul era sinonim cu tendinţa spre infinit, transcendent, şi era eliberat de sexualitate dar « lua drept simbol atracţia nocturnă dintre sexe”, autorul îl opune iubirii creştine, pe care o numeşte agape şi care este sinonimă cu prezentul, cu imanenţa. Spre deosebire de antici, la care căsătoria avea doar o semnificaţie utilitară, limitată, şi care admitea concubinajul, căsătoria creştină devine o taină sfîntă, care impunea fidelitate. Dar fidelitatea era greu de suportat pentru omul de rînd, care se refugiază în iubirea-pasiune, formă pămîntească a cultului lui Eros, care „a cuprins sufletul elitelor imperfect convertite şi care sufereau de pe urma căsătoriei”. Astfel se naşte „cortezia” sau iubirea curtenească din secolul al XII-lea, aşa cum apare ea în poezia trubadurilor, cu acel caracter retoric pronunţat, slăvind iubirea neconsfinţită prin căsătorie, ...întrucît căsătoria nu înseamnă decît unirea corpurilor, în timp ce „Amor", Erosul pur reprezintă avîntarea sufletului spre unirea luminoasă, dincolo de orice iubire posibilă în această viaţă. Iată de ce Iubirea presupune castitate. Acest „Eros pur”, opus lui Agape creştin, care ar explica unele trăsături comune catarilor şi trubadurilor (de la dezvoltarea unor teme ca dispreţul faţă de căsătorie, de feudali şi de Biserică, proslăvirea virtutilor castităţii, etc., pînă la adoptarea aceleiaşi vieţi rătăcitoare ca a „desăvîrşiţilor" – cum erau supranumiti catarii, care băteau drumurile doi câte doi, sau la preluarea de trubaduri a unor expresii din liturghia catarilor), ceea ce îl conduce pe autor la concluzia că iubirea-pasiune descrie de fapt o erezie creştină, determinată istoric. Mai mult decît atît, criza actuală a căsătoriei s-a născut din conflictul dintre aceste două tradiţii religioase, ale căror semnificatii s-au păstrat doar în subconştient. Studiul continuă cu o foarte interesantă analiză a laicizarii şi vulgarizării mitului în literatură. Desacralizarea ar începe în secolul al XIV-lea, odată cu înăsprirea măsurilor bisericeşti împotriva ereticilor, mărturie stînd Romanul celor două roze, în care raţiunea triumfă asupra spiritului. Romanul comic reduce apoi mitul la triunghiul conjugal, iar în secolul al XVII-lea happy-end-ul reduce pasiunea la „passionettes”, transformîndu-l pe Eros într-un copil bucălat şi năzuros. Peste imaginea lui Tristan se suprapune cea a lui Don Juan, opusul său, care îmbină „cele două trăsături atât de tipice epocii: întunecarea şi ticăloşia, antiteză cu adevărat perfectă a celor două virtuţi slăvite de iubirea cavalerească: puritatea şi curtoazia”. Acest eşec al sublimului este semnificativ ilustrat de eseul Despre iubire al lui Stendhal, care transformă tragedia în vodevil, reducînd iubirea pasională la o simplă eroare, rectificabilă prin ceea ce romancierul numeşte « de-cristalizare » (întoarcerea la realitate). În plan social, imaginea căsătoriei cunoaşte şi ea o curbă descendentă, de la sfînta taină la care o ridicase morala creştină a evului mediu, la trivializarea modernă, explicată din nou prin incompatibilitatea dintre pasiune şi căsătorie: ori de cîte ori pasiunea se stinge, partenerii divorţează pentru a fi liberi să caute alta. Considerînd că această vulgarizare a sentimentului cauzată de influenţe externe de un gust îndoielnic (imaginea hollyoodiană a idealului feminin, de exemplu), coboară fiinţa umană la un nivel de mediocritate insultător, autorul propune, în spiritul filosofiei personaliste al cărui adept a fost, în locul iubirii-pasiune, care nu e iubire adevărată dat fiind că pasiunea se manifestă mai ales în absenţa celuilalt (Tristan o iubeşte pe Isolda doar cînd este despărţit de ea), iubirea-acţiune bazată pe fidelitate, singura care înnobilează cuplul, transformînd căsătoria într-un act serios irevocabil. A iubi, spune autorul, este un act, nu o stare, ca a fi îndrăgostit, şi ca orice act presupune responsabilitate, luciditate, spirit de sacrificiu şi respect faţă de celălalt. Iubirea sălbatică şi naturală se manifestă prin viol, dovada de iubire la toate popoarele barbare. Dar violul, ca şi poligamia, dezvăluie faptul că bărbatul nu este încă in stare să înţeleagă, la femeie, realitatea persoanei. Cu alte cuvinte, el nu ştie încă să iubească. Violul şi poligamia o privează pe femeie de calitatea ei de egală – reducînd-o la sex. lubirea sălbatică depersonalizează relaţiile umane. Dimpotrivă, bărbatul care se stăpîneste o face nu din lipsă de ,,pasiune" (în sensul de temperament), ci tocmai pentru că iubeşte şi pentru că, în virtutea acestei iubiri, refuză să se impună, refuză să recurgă la o violenţă care neagă şi distruge persoana. El dovedeşte astfel că doreşte mai întîi de toate binele celuilalt. Egoismul său trece prin celălalt. Trebuie să recunoaştem că aceasta este o revoluţie serioasă. Si astfel vom putea depăşi formula absolut negativă şi privativă a lui Croce, definind, în fine, căsătoria ca acea instituţie care îngrădeşte pasiunea nu prin morală, ci prin iubire. (s. a.) A doua ediţie a eseului include un post-scriptum în care autorul răspunde pe larg criticilor înverşunaţi ai operei sale cu argumente pe care nu le mai reiau aici, fie pentru că apropierea dintre trubaduri şi catari o consider mult prea seducătoare din punct de vedere literar ca să îmi mai bat capul cu adevărul istoric (destul de plăpînd, în multe cazuri), fie pentru că mi se pare absurd să i se reproşeze că ar fi afirmat că iubirea este incompatibilă cu căsătoria cînd a conchis foarte clar că doar un tip de iubire, iubirea-pasiune, este duşmanul acesteia. Am să mai adaug doar că, după părerea mea, valoarea acestei cărţi extraordinare nu stă numai în curajul de a propune şi a argumenta cu siguranţă erudită teze controversate ca aceea a legăturii dintre trubaduri şi catari, sau în analiza şi demistificarea resorturilor intime ale sentimentului, ci şi în calda pledoarie prin care imaginea căsătoriei este răscumpărată, revalorizată prin îmbinarea sentimentului cu respectul faţă de celălalt. În timp ce pasiunea este individuală, egotistă, căsătoria este altruistă, un angajament care reinterpretează propriile priorităţi în funcţie de celălalt şi care redă astfel fiinţei umane grandoarea eroică, prin recuperarea demnităţii pierdute odată cu fuga după pasiunile efemere, superficiale, influenţate de Hollywood şi de literatura de duzină. Oamenii căsătoriţi nu sînt nişte sfinţi, iar păcatul nu este o eroare la care putem renunţa într-o bună zi pentru a îmbrăţişa un adevăr superior. Ne aflăm fără încetare in miezul luptei dintre fire şi har. Fără încetare nefericiţi, apoi iar fericiţi. Dar perspectiva nu mai este aceeaşi. O credinţă, păstrată în Numele acelor lucruri care nu se schimbă la fel ca noi, îşi dezvăluie încetul cu încetul taina: dincolo de tragedie există iarăşi fericirea. O fericire care seamănă cu cea trecută, dar care nu mai aparţine formei acestei lumi, căci ea este cea care preface lumea. (s. a.)

  6. 5 out of 5

    N Perrin

    This book offers one of the richest histories of conventional understandings and formulations of love throughout and across the Western tradition. By historically narrating the introduction of the concepts of irresistible passionate love or overpowering biological instincts toward sex, de Rougemont demonstrates that these commonplaces notions about love today are hardly absolute, that the repression vs. full erotic abandon model really does not hold. Following his historical analysis, de Rougemon This book offers one of the richest histories of conventional understandings and formulations of love throughout and across the Western tradition. By historically narrating the introduction of the concepts of irresistible passionate love or overpowering biological instincts toward sex, de Rougemont demonstrates that these commonplaces notions about love today are hardly absolute, that the repression vs. full erotic abandon model really does not hold. Following his historical analysis, de Rougemont offers some reflections on the nature of love, of passion, and of marriage which remain highly pertinent to today's climate. He points to the inevitable implosion of the old Hollywood vision of making marriage contingent upon passionate love (which in turn led to the divorce revolution of the 60s and 70s). Instead, he argues that irrational love can quell the forces of dissatisfied eros which obsessively roves around for more exciting experiences to consume but is never fulfilled. Marriage may be imperfect, but it is certainly an indispensable bond of equality and love far superior to carnal entanglements of supposed ecstasy. Although this book is dated, it is a very rich read, and the greatest irony is that these poignant reflections on restraint and faithfulness come from a Frenchman no less!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Much of what De Rougemont discusses here should be familiar to readers who have already read Joseph Campbell's Creative Mythology. However, De Rougemont goes in a significantly different direction in his interpretation of the meaning of the medieval Tristan and Isolde legend. Where Campbell is Jungian in his approach, reading the myth as an expressive archetype, De Rougemont is rigorously historicist, arguing that the myth does not so much reflect transhistorical predispositions of the human min Much of what De Rougemont discusses here should be familiar to readers who have already read Joseph Campbell's Creative Mythology. However, De Rougemont goes in a significantly different direction in his interpretation of the meaning of the medieval Tristan and Isolde legend. Where Campbell is Jungian in his approach, reading the myth as an expressive archetype, De Rougemont is rigorously historicist, arguing that the myth does not so much reflect transhistorical predispositions of the human mind, but that it is a construct emerging out of a nexus of social forces unique to a particular time in history. The surprising thing is how the modern concept of love derives not from something universal in the human being, but from the social realities of the historical moment De Rougemont analyzes. An impressive and scholarly work.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    “The symbol of Love is no longer the infinite passion of a soul in quest of light, but the marriage of Christ and the Church… Whereas, according to the doctrines of mystical paganism, human love was sublimated so thoroughly as to be made into a god even while it was being dedicated to death, Christianity has restored human love to its proper status, and in this status has hallowed it by means of marriage. Such a love, being understood according to the image of Christ’s love for His Church (Ephes “The symbol of Love is no longer the infinite passion of a soul in quest of light, but the marriage of Christ and the Church… Whereas, according to the doctrines of mystical paganism, human love was sublimated so thoroughly as to be made into a god even while it was being dedicated to death, Christianity has restored human love to its proper status, and in this status has hallowed it by means of marriage. Such a love, being understood according to the image of Christ’s love for His Church (Ephesians, v. 25), is able to be truly mutual. For its object, from having been the actual notion of love and the exquisite and fatal branding of love (‘It is better’, Saint Paul says, ‘to marry than to burn’), has become the other as he or she really is. And, in spite of the hindrance of sin, human love is a happy love, since already here below it can by obedience attain to the fullness of its own status.”

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jaq

    Verrà giorno che gli uomini si guarderanno l'un l'altro fraternamente con i tuoi occhi, amor mio, si guarderanno con i tuoi occhi.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Myriam

    L’amour heureux n’a pas d’histoire.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lilaia Moreli

    Love in the Western World is an impressive and singular scholarly work penned by the Swiss writer and cultural theorist Denis de Rougemont. In this mammoth of a book, Rougemont takes a deep breath and plunges headlong into the ocean, eager to stir the depths of our subconscious and bring to light that which hasn’t ceased tormenting the western culture for whole centuries: the polarity between Eros dressed as passion and Love dressed as Agape. Etymologically speaking, passion derives from the Gree Love in the Western World is an impressive and singular scholarly work penned by the Swiss writer and cultural theorist Denis de Rougemont. In this mammoth of a book, Rougemont takes a deep breath and plunges headlong into the ocean, eager to stir the depths of our subconscious and bring to light that which hasn’t ceased tormenting the western culture for whole centuries: the polarity between Eros dressed as passion and Love dressed as Agape. Etymologically speaking, passion derives from the Greek word ”πάσχω” which means ”to suffer”. Therefore, passion means suffering. And this is the thread Rougemont is eager to unwind in order to unfold his analysis. In the book, the basis of the study begins with the quintessential Celtic myth of the star-crossed lovers Tristan and Iseult. After all, this love affair covers a rich, fertile ground ready for the harvester’s hand: drama, intensity, passion, obstacles, infidelity, courtly love, melancholy, adventure etc. There could be no better myth for the work at hand. We read that, ”What stirs lyrical poets to their finest flights is neither the delight of the senses nor the fruitful contentment of the settled couple; not the satisfaction of love, but its passion. And passion means suffering.” Rougemont doesn’t get carried away with romantic ideas. On the contrary, he delves into the heart of the matter, bringing to the surface the dark truth that lies at the bottom of perhaps the most enduring and celebrated European myth. Rougemont, with his remarkable insight, maintains the idea that what propels the actions and decisions between the lovers is not the love the one nurtures for the other, but the narcissistic love that each one harbours for one’s own self. Tristan and Iseult become involved with each other, entangled in a deadly game due to a magic potion they accidentally consume. A potion destined for Iseult and her future husband and Tristan’s uncle, king Mark of Cornwall. The lovers are drenched in desire. But it’s not a desire burning for the beloved person. It’s a desire that flares up every time an obstacle rises in their way. It’s a desire for passion. In other words, it’s a desire for suffering, for frustration, for adventures. Every time they are about to be exposed before the king’s eyes, their desire magnifies tenfold, for the risk looming over their heads kicks up their adrenaline. Separation and reunion. That’s the endless circle into which they’re running. Lost to the outside world, as if dead to every other stimulus, they are not interested in possessing each other. What they care about is their own selfish pleasure and satisfaction, their own excitement, their own longing for more suffering that energizes them. The myth of Tristan and Iseult is a tragic story, a delicious torment that surpasses the boundaries of good and evil. It’s a true romance in all its nostalgic glory. Rougemont writes that, ”To love in the sense of passion-love is the contrary of to live. It is an impoverishment of one’s being, an askesis without sequel, an inability to enjoy the present without imagining it as absent, a never-ending flight from possession.” Rougemont observes that the myth equally conceals and discloses its terrible secret through a mystical language carried by the tradition of the Druids and later the trobadours. And what exactly is that secret? None other than love. But it’s not a love for the beloved person. It’s love for the idea of love. Tristan doesn’t love Iseult and neither does Iseult love Tristan. Both are in love with the idea of love. They don’t need so much each other’s presence. It’s the absence that ignites their passion, leading them to a triumph of a most narcissistic nature. In Wagner’s work Tristan wonders, ”For what fate? The ancient tune tells me once more: to yearn – and to die. No! Ah, no! That is not it! Yearning! Yearning! While dying to yearn, but not to die of yearning!” But this love for love cleverly hides an even darker truth: love for death. Death is the final destination. The only destination that can liberate them from their terrible passion. By dying, Tristan and Iseult retaliate against the magic potion and all the maelstrom it generated. This was always wanted the lovers longed for. This was the ultimate truth they weren’t even aware of. A truth that turned against them in the end. Rougemont traces the religious origins of the myth in platonism, druidism and manichaeism. The dialectics of Eros introduces something of a most extraordinary nature, for it has to do with a desire that doesn’t diminish, that can find satisfaction nowhere, that evades its completion in this world because it longs to embrace everything. Its final goal is to reach the Infinite, to seek union with the Divine. Eros despises the terrestrial pleasures because it’s a desire without end whose fruition lies beyond this world. Rougemont always returns to the polarity between Night and Day, between life and death, between desire and obligation. Desire and obligation spring from courtly love that later turns into an heresy, Catharism. The damsel in courtly love is always married to an older, noble man. Always loyal and unapproachable, she is merciless and cold to her young lover to whom she pays no attention. The damsel becomes his mistress and the lover her vassal. And if marriage is nothing more than a political pact between two families, it becomes patently clear why love outside of marriage wasn’t viewed as infidelity by the travadours but as an ideal relationship which merited poetry and songs and eternal praise through a carefully crafted and mystical language. Eros is an askesis, a withdrawal within the self, an impoverishment where the outside world languishes and the inner world becomes intoxicated. The exceptional psychology of the cult of Eros is revealed through language, a language that at the same time has the potential to tell lies and reveal what it truly wants to express. It’s a language preserved through the conviction that others won’t understand what it wants to convey. Therefore, in this misunderstanding, the very essence of passion isn’t understood, thus saved. Rougemont then proceeds to bring to the table the concept of love as it has been portrayed in literature through Petrarch, plays by Corneille and Racine, the myths created by Don Juan and Sade and the movement of Romanticism. Of particular interest is the parallelism Rougemont draws between love and war, between the military and the sexual instinct. The proof of this lies in the vocabulary applied. ”Cupid’s arrows”, ”the battle for love”, ”the siege of the lady’s body and heart”, ”the conquest of the object of our desire”, ”the defences that can be lowered”, ”the prisoner who can be won”, ”the sweet defeat and surrender”, ”the vassal into which the lover is turned”. Imperialism is seen as a desire without end, a desire to conquer nations because the need for new territories arises. But war signifies death in the manner that love dressed as passion signifies death, even though nobody admits this openly. Rougemont concludes his work with a burning issue that still remains pertinent: fidelity and the crisis of matrimony. Far removed from the social, political and historical context that gave birth to the myth of Tristan and Iseult, our society views marriage under a completely different light. Iseult might be a symbol of the ideal woman, a woman we can never possess and, if we possess her, she loses her idealistic qualities. And the same applies to Tristan. But Eros is saved when transformed to the Christian concept of Agape. Infidelity arises when the idealistic object of our dreams enters into our possession. Once possessed, the dream wanes, and we find ourselves on the prowl, seeking for a new object on which to project our passions and desires. Agape, though, isn’t based on reflections or illusions, but on equality. Man and woman are treated as equal beings, not as romantic projections of mythic and dream-like proportions. The narcissistic desire withers and dies, giving its place to love and the desire for the well-being of the beloved person. Love in the Western World is definitely an ambitious work that attempts to unearth the secrets of Eros-passion and Agape-love through historical, cultural, religious and philosophical dimensions. It’s not a book for everyone. I found it equally fascinating and bewildering. It opened my eyes to a lot of things I hadn’t considered before and, although it’s not a book that can be absorbed with the first reading, it has offered me plenty of food for thought. I will certainly come back to it many times in the future. Love in the Western World strikes at the heart of the western culture, providing answers and challenging our notions regarding a matter still very much relevant to our existence. Almost 80 years after its initial publication, it remains meaningfully modern, for it still hasn’t finished saying what it has to say, as is the case with all good works.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Garber

    It is quite simply stunning that so much of what de Rougemont wrote almost one hundred years ago applies so perfectly to our contemporary age in 2018 – both on the personal and political level. De Rougemont describes the origin of the myth of “romance” in the adaptation by French troubadours in the 13th century of Catharist theologies that disdained the body and praised only life after death. In other words, life is suffering and so too must love be suffering, a constant pining after what is not It is quite simply stunning that so much of what de Rougemont wrote almost one hundred years ago applies so perfectly to our contemporary age in 2018 – both on the personal and political level. De Rougemont describes the origin of the myth of “romance” in the adaptation by French troubadours in the 13th century of Catharist theologies that disdained the body and praised only life after death. In other words, life is suffering and so too must love be suffering, a constant pining after what is not yet rather than a satisfaction with the other person for who they are. He asks in his initial chapter, “Can we be in such a state of delusion, can we have been so thoroughly ‘mystified’, as really to have forgotten the unhappy aspect of passion, or is it that in our heart of hearts we prefer to what must seemingly fulfil our ideal of a harmonious existence something that afflicts and yet elevates us?” (16) And states later, more dramatically (but truthfully!), “The myth [of romance] operates wherever passion is dreamed of as an ideal instead of being feared like a malignant fever; wherever its fatal character is welcomed, invoked, or imagined as a magnificent and desirable disaster instead of as simply a disaster.” (24) De Rougemont then goes on to contrast this always-deferred suffering love, Eros, with love content with loving the other, Agape – Christian love. “What the Gospel calls dying to self is the beginning of a new life already here below—not the soul’s flight out of the world, but its return in force into the midst of the world….To love according to this new way is a positive act and an act of transformation. Eros had pursued infinite becoming. Christian love is obedience in the present. For to love God is to obey God, Who has commanded us to love one another. To love your enemies is to shed selfishness and the desirous and anxious self.” (68) Although his theology of marriage in his final section is somewhat strained (he really, really hates embodiment for some reason), his observations about capitalism’s eager ties to the romantic myth (what he calls “the heresy”) are painfully on the mark. De Rougemont ingeniously ties this infinitely deferred desire and its transmission through history via popular culture, from the Troubadours through Milton, Shakespeare, the Romantics, and D. H. Lawrence. He also cleverly maps this deferred desire onto the Western propensity for war, colonization, and economic exploitation. In a terrifying parallel to the patriarchal politics of the USA in 2018, de Rougemont writes: “It was the cult and blood-spilling mystery that gave rise to a new form of community—the Nation. And a Nation requires that passion shall be translated to the level of the people as a whole….Nationalist ardor too is a self-elevation, a narcissistic love on the part of the collective Self….And what does national passion require? The elevation of collective might can only lead to the following dilemma: either the triumph of imperialism—of the ambition to become the equal of the whole world—or the people next door strongly object, and there ensues war.” To hate life and want what one does not have undergirds the destructive impulse both of individualistic romance and of the capitalist war machine (to borrow a term from Deleuze and Guattari). Read de Rougemont with an eye toward his time and place, and you will be stunned at how applicable it remains. Our task now is to move beyond Eros to Agape – with the fate of the world at stake.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Roger Burk

    I got this because I have a soft spot for the medieval Provencal poets, This guy starts from an intriguing yet improbably hypothesis about them, and derives from it an explanation of the development of the notion of romantic love from their time until today. At least I think that's the drift--he writes in huge sweeping airy abstract generalizations and I was often unsure what he was getting at. Indeed I wasn't sure it wasn't pure gassy nonsense. He starts with the striking historical fact that t I got this because I have a soft spot for the medieval Provencal poets, This guy starts from an intriguing yet improbably hypothesis about them, and derives from it an explanation of the development of the notion of romantic love from their time until today. At least I think that's the drift--he writes in huge sweeping airy abstract generalizations and I was often unsure what he was getting at. Indeed I wasn't sure it wasn't pure gassy nonsense. He starts with the striking historical fact that the troubadours' notion of unfulfilled idealized love developed in the same time and place as the ascetic and dualistic Cather heresy, and declares that the two must be somehow related. In the book he seems so claim that the troubadours were secret Cathars and the songs were coded descriptions of the love of God. Honestly, only an intellectual could believe such nonsense. In any event, in an appendix he disavows this extreme interpretation, but leaves the relationship unclear, at least as far as I could puzzle it out (the book was written in 1938, the appendix in 1972). So the troubadours popularized a new attitude towards love, and it was taken up in the Tristan and Isolde stories, mixed with some threads of Celtic legendry. This became the basic story of romantic love in the West, endlessly reimagined. There follow ever more vast and grand generalizations and metaphors about attitudes towards love in every following period. As near as I can tell, with this new insight he discovers that Corneille, Racine, Rousseau, and de Sade all meant the opposite of what they said they meant about love (he assumes encyclopedic knowledge of French literature). It's hard to put my finger on his exact meaning. There's even a digression into how all this interacted with the art of war.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Describes how all the traditional elements of our concept of romantic love developed: the damsel in distress, the shining knight on the white horse, the forbidden desires that must be hidden from the lovers’ families, and so on, and it shows how we have translated these tropes conceptually into modern symbols without losing the power of the medieval models. Covers everything from the Iberian poetry of Sufi mystics in the 9th Century to the screwball romantic comedies of the 1940s. Engaging and p Describes how all the traditional elements of our concept of romantic love developed: the damsel in distress, the shining knight on the white horse, the forbidden desires that must be hidden from the lovers’ families, and so on, and it shows how we have translated these tropes conceptually into modern symbols without losing the power of the medieval models. Covers everything from the Iberian poetry of Sufi mystics in the 9th Century to the screwball romantic comedies of the 1940s. Engaging and polemical, de Rougement occasionally makes leaps that other historians have disputed (he connects the chansons of Provençal bards to the Catharist heresy that inspired the first Catholic Inquisition in a way that evidence does not entirely support), but the originality of his insights is impressive and his thoroughness in exploring the implications of his thesis, in literature and in everyday life, ultimately convinces.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nate

    A long, if meandering read, but worth your time if you are interested in the development of the myth of romance in the West. A familiarity with medieval and French literature is helpful, but not necessary, in reading this classic from de Rougemont. Read "Tristan and Iseult" as a prerequisite.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel

    Want to understand the birthplace of romantic love? Look no further.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    A renewed focus on readings on love. What is it to love and to be loved? This course of study starts here.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dimitris

    Most difficult book I ever read. I loved what I understood - about half of it, to be honest.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Svetlana Meritt

    Beautiful writing on the development of love in the Western world.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Olga

    Конспектик: "У західній літературі немає місця історії про щасливе кохання. А кохання без взаємности не вважається справжнім коханням. Великий винахід поетів Західної Європи, який вирізняє їх у світовій літературі, який найповніше виражає дивну одержимість Європейця - пізнання через страждання, загадка міту про Трістана, кохання-пристрасть, взаємне та завойоване, сповнене туги за щастям, яке воно відштовхує, оспіване у своїй катастрофі, - нещасливе взаємне кохання. [...] пристрасть - це аскеза. В Конспектик: "У західній літературі немає місця історії про щасливе кохання. А кохання без взаємности не вважається справжнім коханням. Великий винахід поетів Західної Європи, який вирізняє їх у світовій літературі, який найповніше виражає дивну одержимість Європейця - пізнання через страждання, загадка міту про Трістана, кохання-пристрасть, взаємне та завойоване, сповнене туги за щастям, яке воно відштовхує, оспіване у своїй катастрофі, - нещасливе взаємне кохання. [...] пристрасть - це аскеза. Вона успішно протистоїть земному життю, бо набирає форми бажання, а це бажання перетворюється на фатальність. [...] таке кохання глибоко пов’язане з нашою схильністю до війни. [...] У чудовій посмертній збірці поем та есеїв Jleo Ферреро Безнадії я натрапив на згадку (1933) про розмову між автором та молодим китайцем: “Поняття “кохання” у Китаї не існує. Дієслово “любити” використовується лише для означення стосунків між матір’ю та синами. Чоловік не Кохає дружину: “він до неї прив’язаний”. [...] “Основною засадою китайської цивілізації є інституція сім’ї, а сім’я заснована на відсутності кохання. Китайські традиції у цьому непорушні. Будь-який вйяв ніжности між чоловіком та дружиною вважається непристойним." [...] Мойсей був для арабських містиків символом найбільшого закоханого, бо, коли він говорив про бажання побачити Бога на Сінаї, він говорив про бажання померти. [...] Психічна революція XII століття. - Неоманихейська єресь, що прийшла з Близького Сходу через Вірменію та болгарських богомолів, виступила як рух катарів, аскетів, які засуджували шлюб і заснували Церкву любови, що протистояла римській Церкві. Єресь швидко заполонила Францію від Реймсу на півночі та від кордонів Італії до Іспанії, аби звідти випромінювати світло на всю Європу. [...] 1140 року каноніки встановили свято Непорочного Зачаття Діви Марії. Св. Бернар з Клєрво у славнозвісному листі протестував проти “цього нового свята, яке не знає Церква, не приймає розум, не визнає традиція, і яке впроваджує новину, сестру забобону, дочку мінливости”. Культ Богородиці відповідав життєвій необхідності, загроженому становищу Церкви, заанґажованої до певного кола справ... Папство через багато століть змушене було санкціонувати почуття, якому непотрібна була догма, аби заполонити усі види мистецтва. [...] У XII столітті у Європі впроваджується радикальна видозміна гри у шахи, яка походила з Індії. Замість чотирьох королів, які домінували у первісній версії гри, з’являється дама (або королева), яка бере верх над усіма іншими фігурами, за винятком короля, який, зрештою, втрачає реальну дієву могутність, залишаючись останнім редутом та священною особою. [...] Видимий світ належить демонові. Усе, що залежить від його влади, приречене на скінченність, тіла приречені на жадання, неминучу тиранію якого символізує любовний напій. Людина не вільна. Вона обмежена владою демона. Але якщо людина бере на себе нещасну долю аж до смерти, яка порятує її з в’язниці тіла, вона може досягнути справжньої любови поза часом і простором, злиття двох Я, які вже не страждають від кохання: найвищої радости. [...] Нація - це відображення пристрасти в колективному плані. [...] пристрасть кохання - це прихований нарцисизм, самоекзальтація закоханого, а не стосунки із коханою. Трістан прагне любовної рани, а не володіння Ізольдою. Бо всепоглинаюча та глибока рана пристрасти ошляхетнює його, і як помітив Ваґнер, прирівнює його до світу. “Мій зачарований погляд засліплений... Я - сам, я - це світ...” Пристрасть прагне, щоб “Я” стало більше, ніж усе решта, таким єдиним та могутнім, як Бог. Вона прагне (сама того не усвідомлюючи), щоби смерть стала справжнім кінцем не тільки його самого, а й усього що існує. [...] Націоналістичний запал також є самоекзальтацією, нарцистичним коханням колективного “Я”. Його почуття до іншого насправді рідко можна назвати коханням: майже завжди на першому місці з’являється ненависть, якою хизуються. [...] Екзальтація колективної сили може привести лише до такої дилеми: або тріумфуючий імперіалізм - це бажання дорівнятися до світу, або, якщо сусіда енергійно опирається, - війна. Нація у своєму першому пристрасному злеті рідко відступає перед війною, навіть безнадійною. Не визнаючи цього відверто, вона, по суті, воліє ризик смерти, ба, навіть саму смерть, аніж зречення своєї пристрасти. [...] З часів революції у битвах починають використовувати “серця солдатів”, себто битви стають “дикими та трагічними” (Фок). [...] Творчість поетів-романтиків відіграла важливу роль у визвольних війнах Пруссії проти Наполеона. А пристрасні за своєю сутністю філософії Фіхте та Геґеля, наприклад, були першими опорами німецького націоналізму. Звідси все кривавіший характер воєн XIX століття. Йдеться про “антаґоністичні” релігії, а не про інтереси. А релігії не домовляються, на відміну від інтересів: вони прагнуть героїчної смерти. (У всі часи релігійні війни були найжорстокішими). Держава змушує до колективної аскези в ім’я національної величі. Лицарській гідності відповідає тривожна дратівливість народів тоталітарних держав. [...] натовп реаґує на диктатора своєї країни так, як жінка у цій країні реаґує на спокуси чоловіка. [...] Язичник мусив зробити Ероса богом: він був наймогутнішою, найнебезпечнішою, найтаємнішою силою і був найтісніше пов’язаний з життям. Усі поганські релігії обожнювали Бажання. Усі шукали підтримки та порятунку у Бажанні, яке незабаром стало найлютішим ворогом життя, спокусою ніщо. [...] Кохання з першого погляду вимагає аналізу поведінки Дон Жуана. Уся література pмушує бачити у ньому приклад вельми потужної природи. Дон Жуан, чоловік миттєвих закоханостей та бурхливого життя, був би чимось на зразок надлюдини, надсамця. Це міт про безмежну потугу, що перемагає моральні умовності. Але тоді можна бути певним, що такий міт, породжений компенсаційними мріями, які вирівнюють чи то примусову та зневажену вірність, чи то мазохістську заздрість, чи, врешті-решт, початок імпотенції. Поведінка Дон Жуана є типовою для людини у стані сексуальної деґенерації. У стані загальної втоми, локалізованої у сексуальній сфері, тіло поступається цій несподіваній грі, так само, як втомлений розум сходить на каламбури та дозволяє собі недоречні аналогії. Натомість у нормальному стані і тіла, і глузду ризик несподіваного вибуху зникає."

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Goodenough

    Quelques citations : "J'entrelace des mots rares, sombres et colorés, pensivement pensif..." écrit Raimbaut d'Orange.(p104) Tant que les fourmis ne parleront pas, toutes les hypothèses sont possibles. (p156) La passion n'est nullement cette vie plus riche dont rêvent les adolescents ; elle est, bien au contraire, une sorte d'intensité nue et dénuante, oui vraiment, un amer dénuement, un appauvrissement de la conscience vidée de toute diversité, une obsession de l'imagination concentrée sur une seul Quelques citations : "J'entrelace des mots rares, sombres et colorés, pensivement pensif..." écrit Raimbaut d'Orange.(p104) Tant que les fourmis ne parleront pas, toutes les hypothèses sont possibles. (p156) La passion n'est nullement cette vie plus riche dont rêvent les adolescents ; elle est, bien au contraire, une sorte d'intensité nue et dénuante, oui vraiment, un amer dénuement, un appauvrissement de la conscience vidée de toute diversité, une obsession de l'imagination concentrée sur une seule image, - et dès lors le monde s'évanouit, "les autres" cessent d'être présents, il n'y a plus ni prochain ni devoirs, ni liens qui tiennent, ni terre ni ciel : on est seul avec tout ce que l'on aime. (p160) La femme étant l'égale de l'homme, elle ne peut donc être "le but de l'homme" comme le croira cependant Novalis, renouvelant la mystique courtoise et les vieilles traditions celtiques. [...] L'amour réellement réciproque exige et crée l'égalité de ceux qui s'aiment. [...] L'homme témoigne de son amour pour une femme en la traitant comme une personne humaine totale - non comme une fée de la légende, mi-déesse mi-bacchante, rêve et sexe. (p338) L'amour sauvage et naturel se manifeste par le viol, preuve d'amour chez tous les barbares. Mais le viol, comme la polygamie, révèle que l'homme n'est pas encore en mesure de concevoir la réalité de la personne chez la femme. C'est autant dire qu'il ne sait pas encore aimer. Le viol et la polygamie privent la femme de sa qualité d'égale - en la réduisant à son sexe. L'amour sauvage dépersonnalise les relations humaines. Par contre, l'homme qui se domine, ce n'est pas faute de "passion" (au sens de tempérament) mais c'est qu'il aime, justement, et qu'en vertu de cet amour, il refuse de s'imposer, il se refuse à une violence qui nie et détruit la personne. (p341) Davenson a bien vu chez les Arabes comment le refus d'accomplir totalement le désir est le moyen le plus "raffiné" de l'éterniser. Ainsi, Ibn Dawûd : "Ah! non, n'accomplis pas ta promesse de m'aimer de peur que vienne l'oubli!..." Cependant, il ne vent plus voir que "masochisme alambiqué", "raffinement morbide, bas calcul d'une sensibilité détraquée" dans le même phénomène quand il s'atteste chez les troubadours, comme Cercamon (1135-1145) : "Rien ne me fait plus envie Qu'un objet qui toujours m'échappe" ou comme Matfre Ermengau (fin XIIe, début XIVe) : "Le plaisir de cet amour se détruit quand le désir trouve son rassasiement." (p394-395) Le thème de la soumission à la dame conduit à celui de l'épreuve qu'elle fait subir à son soupirant : "Ma dame me met à l'essai et m'éprouve Pour savoir en quelle guise je l'aime." Cet essai, assay ou asag, deviendra au XIIIe siècle, expressément cette fois, l'épreuve héroïsante de la chasteté gardée "au lit", nudus cum nuda, dont Mircea Eliade a décrit les modalités dans le tantrisme. (p396) Ces contradictions sont illustrées par tous les épisodes du roman, elles font le roman : alternances de séparations nostalgiques et de revoirs extatiques, nouvelles séparations pour éviter la faute sociale, mais aussi pour recréer la situation courtoise d'amour de loin (tout vaut mieux que la vie quotidienne partagée). [...] Il n'a voulu garder de l'amour que les moments éblouissants, ceux de la passion interdite, et le temps du désir où l'on ressent le mieux l'amour-en-soi. Dès lors l'éblouissement suprême ne peut être que mortel : c'est la mort des Banou Odrah, la tribu légendaire où l'on meurt quand on aime. (p416) La cure consisterait dans une confrontation du fiévreux à la réalité. L'équivalent des antihistaminiques prescrits dans les cas d'allergie serait d'amener le passionné à regarder et à voir l'autre tel qu'il est. Or c'est à quoi le passionné se refuse, et de toute sa passion, précisément. Il préfère s'éloigner de celle qu'il risquerait de trop bien voir dans la sobre lumière des jours partagés. (p418) Ce que l'analogie de la drogue fait bien sentir, c'est le caractère invinciblement solipsiste, narcissique et ségrégatif de la passion. Ceux qui "voyagent" sont toujours seuls. Leur passion n'atteint pas la réalité de l'autre, et n'aime en fait que son image. Et c'est pourquoi le mariage ne peut se fonder sur elle. [...] Un des plus grands malentendus nés de mon livre consiste à répéter qu'il condamne la passion - ce qui est faux - parce qu'elle est l'ennemie intime de l'institution matrimoniale et de son éthique - ce qui est exact ; d'où l'on déduit que "l'amour" serait incompatible avec le mariage - ce qui est ridicule. (p420) J'ai tenté d'isoler la passion comme on le fait d'un corps chimique pour mieux connaître ses propriétés. Et j'ai montré qu'isolée de son contraire (l'amour actif ou Agapè), à l'état pur, passif ou extatique, elle est mortelle, comme chez Tristan et quelques-uns des grands mystiques. Reste à voir ce qu'elle peut produire quand elle entre en composition - si elle le tolère. Le chlore pur est mortel, mais le chlorure de sodium est le sel de nos repas - de nos agapes. [...] [Mon enquête sur les origines de l'amour] peut donner la clé de plus d'une tradition érotique ou sentimentale devenue réflexe ou nostalgie chez l'homme moderne, et dès lors d'autant plus envoûtante et contraignante qu'il n'en connaît plus le sens, jadis libérateur, et ne sais plus en lire les symboles. (p421) Toute tentative d'éliminer l'un des deux pôles de ces tensions, de le confondre avec son opposé, de le réduire à la loi de l'autre (qu'il soit le plus fort ou le plus fin) par annexion ou colonisation, ou d'établir une subordination quelconque de l'un à l'autre, fonde et appelle l'Etat totalitaire et détruit à mes yeux l'intérêt de la vie, pour parler de manière très générale ; quant au sujet qui nous occupe : c'est détruire l'existence de l'Amour essentiel. (p423)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Maddy

    Took me over a year, and I must confess I was skimming toward the end. I'm not sure it's fair to blame the Catharists and Manichaeans for our wish for passion (and therefore our wish for death) - although it doesn't necessarily appear in the Bible (??) I'm sure many Christians have (re)invented passionate religion and passionate love. It's interesting that we seem to have the same anxieties about marriage (it's a stabilizing force in society THAT IS TOTALLY IN PERIL! Think of the children! Everyo Took me over a year, and I must confess I was skimming toward the end. I'm not sure it's fair to blame the Catharists and Manichaeans for our wish for passion (and therefore our wish for death) - although it doesn't necessarily appear in the Bible (??) I'm sure many Christians have (re)invented passionate religion and passionate love. It's interesting that we seem to have the same anxieties about marriage (it's a stabilizing force in society THAT IS TOTALLY IN PERIL! Think of the children! Everyone is so selfishly passionate these days, they throw marital stability away at the drop of a hat! Serial monogamy!) that de Rougement had in the 1930s, even though the divorce rate then was pretty low, relative to today. I find these arguments low on data - sure, kids from single-parent homes don't do as well, but that appears to be economic - and also flat-out ignoring the number of people who were completely, totally miserable and abused in the days before divorce. De Rougement even mentions that women's rights probably hurt marriage. Ugh, ugh and ugh. The passion = death wish psychology is very Freudian, and I wonder how contemporary psychologists would handle it. Passion = a pleasurable System 1 (emotional/intuitive) feedback loop in the brain, awash with hormones? I suspect they would say it's not exactly a death wish, but certainly a desire to live in the moment without consequences (which can, of course, cause death). Overall, an interesting read. Perhaps Milan Kundera was right that Europeans are of the species Homo sentimentalis!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    A dizzying, sometimes entrancing, sometimes frustrating interpretation of the myth of Tristan as a recrudescence of ancient eastern Manicheeism. The provencal troubadors, who acted as midwife to this myth--the sufferings of one whose devotion and longing for a faraway, impossible-to-attain woman, a princess, leads him to resolve his problem through suicide--appear in the same region where Albigensians, medieval neo-Manicheans, emerged too. De Rougemont traces the story through an enormous amount A dizzying, sometimes entrancing, sometimes frustrating interpretation of the myth of Tristan as a recrudescence of ancient eastern Manicheeism. The provencal troubadors, who acted as midwife to this myth--the sufferings of one whose devotion and longing for a faraway, impossible-to-attain woman, a princess, leads him to resolve his problem through suicide--appear in the same region where Albigensians, medieval neo-Manicheans, emerged too. De Rougemont traces the story through an enormous amount of literature of multiple languages. If you can wade through numerous unsupported suppositions and self-consciously egregious allowances, you might find as I did the interpretation worth reading in its entirety. And although there is an apologetic wagging the dog--De Rougemont is interested to understand why marriage as a sacrament, as an institution has undergone such decadence, why passion and being in love loom so large in the middle-class conception of true love--you'll find genuine insight and heuristic provocations. The denouement of the book is a disappointing reprise of Kierkegaard. For that, it is always best just to read the Dane himself.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sasha Ambroz

    Псевдонауковий текст, в якому автор взявся за дуже цікаву тему, по дорозі обісрав інших авторів, які писали на будь-яку дотичну до "дослідження" тему (не постраждав тільки Гейзінґа), напхав цитат без посилань та навіть зазначення авторства, відкинув всі факти в місцях, де сова не натягнулася на глобус, і замість висновків роздав пару непевних порад брачующімся. А потім весь цей цирк переклали і забули віддати редактору на вичитування.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Haf

    Un libro que cambia tu idea del amor y del deseo. La pasión como algo más bello que la moral y que por lo tanto queda fuera de ella. La pasión mistificada como algo que todo hombre debe vivir, la pasión se sujeta a la muerte porque quiere exaltar a la vida más allá de su condición finita, el exaltamiento de la vida lleva a su destrucción.

  26. 5 out of 5

    June

    This is a book read long ago, and something recent (maybe bookclub discussions?) made me want to pull it out again. However, I am having my usual trouble making my way through nonfiction. Plus, I need to make it to the end of Anna Karenina in the next four weeks, and that takes precedence in my reading time.

  27. 4 out of 5

    DoctorM

    Something read long ago, and read I recall in tandem with Jessie Weston's "From Ritual to Romance". De Rougemont's work has had its critics over the years, and I'm not sure his theories about the origin of Western romantic love in Cathar thought has held up. But it's a book I did love once upon a time, and it's still a delight....

  28. 5 out of 5

    Raiden

    De Rougemont gives an excellent historical rundown of Romantic Love as an Idea, and provides a strong critique of its consequences, yet surprisingly does not totally prove his case that's its provenance is owed to the Cathars. Nonetheless a pleasure to read due to its innovative thesis and elegant prose.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Paul Gosselin

    Partant de Tristan et Iseult, de Rougemont déconstruit le mythe de la passion amoureuse en tant qu'exaltation non sans répercussions sur le monde politique. La finalité de l'amour courtois c'est la passion qui est plus présente que jamais au XXe siècle.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Paolo

    Libro illuminante per capire l'origine della nostra sensibilità. Oggi forse datato,ma all'epoca fu molto innovativo. Un saggio che si legge come un romanzo. Interessanti anche la biografia e le posizioni che l'autore ha via via assunto. http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denis_de... Libro illuminante per capire l'origine della nostra sensibilità. Oggi forse datato,ma all'epoca fu molto innovativo. Un saggio che si legge come un romanzo. Interessanti anche la biografia e le posizioni che l'autore ha via via assunto. http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denis_de...

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