On Love, Annotated PDF

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Of all his books, Love was Stendhal’s favorite. Written at a critical time in his life when his own love had been rejected, the book is a thinly disguised picture of the author’s innermost feelings. Though it ranges over a wide variety of topics from courtly love to the emancipation of women, central to the book is Stendhal’s account of love – an intense, romantic and generally unrequited love. ‘On Love’ is Stendhal’s profound attempt to rationalise that most complex of emotions – romantic love. Inspired by his unrequited passion for the Countess Dembowska, he brings together logical, clear-sighted analysis with all-consuming emotion, to most remarkable effect. Having classified the many types of love – passionate, physical, vain… – Stendhal identifies the seven stages by which lovers fall under the spell of emotion. He here expounds his celebrated theory of crystallisation, through which the object of affection is transformed beyond all recognition, adorned with a thousand crystals, in the mind of the lover. The prescience of his theories about the psychological state of loving has astounded generations of readers. Yet beneath these clever philosophical musings can be seen a desperate attempt by the author to reconcile and dispel his own tortured emotions. The result is an astonishing work that bears all the hallmarks of Stendhal’s later masterpieces.

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