Spanning the Middle Ages to the present, How the French Invented Love explores a love-obsessed culture through its great works of literature, interlacing the author's charming personal anecdotes. This fascinating history will particularly delight fans of Alain de Botton, Adam Gopnik, and Simon Schama.
Love occupies an honored place in the French sense of identity, on a par with fashion, food, wine, and the rights of man. A Frenchman or woman without amorous desire is considered defective, like someone missing the sense of smell or taste. For hundreds of years, the French have championed themselves as guides to the art of love through their literature, paintings, songs, and cinema, yet no English book has seriously addressed the subject of French ideas about love. No one has followed the roadmap of French literary landmarks, which explore every nuance of love as it evolved over the centuries—until now.
In How the French Invented Love, acclaimed scholar Marilyn Yalom distills her readings of French literary works and the memories of her experiences in France to discover the central tenets of that culture's gospel of love. In the process, she examines almost a thousand years of divine culture in search of the intimate moments that reveal how the particularly French concept of l'amour has endured and evolved.