Posted by: Corri van de Stege | February 16, 2008

All about love

Last week had Valentine’s day somewhere in the middle, so it is probably appropriate that the previous Saturday The Guardian’s Review had an article by Jeffrey Eugenides about Love Stories (see my reference here) while today Tim Lott urges writers ‘to put the romance back into novels’ (the Guardian Review on Saturday 16 February 2008).  Lott laments the scarcity of novels about love, as he says, this is quite surprising as ‘every coupling is a story, pitted with conflict, resolution, stalemates, passions, misunderstandings, wars and truces.’  Yes, we know them all, too painfully and at the same time too exhilaratingly well.  Nevertheless, there are very few modern novels that are explicitly about love.  As Lott says, even Atonement (and has that not been made into a breathtaking film!) is not really a love story as such, as it is overlaid with a second and much bigger narrative of war and history.

 

I am writing this while listening to Andrew Hubbard playing violin pieces of romantic classics, very apt.  You may well wonder who Andrew Hubbard is, as I had not really heard of him until this afternoon when we wandered through the shopping centre of the slightly depressing town of King’s Lynn, buying printing paper, files, and other essential writing accessories, when all of a sudden there was this most magnificent blast of classical music enveloping the shops, their shop assistants and slightly bemused people.  Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Spring, followed by a powerful rendition of arias, O paese d’o Sole and Verdi’s Di Provenza.  It could have been Bocelli himself having decided to embrace Norfolk on this beautiful crisp and cold but very sunny February Saturday.  It was not, but there were this quite unlikely pair of  excellent performers, violinist, Andrew Hubbard, and classical singer, Richard Stark with violin pieces and areas, playing havoc in the streets of KL.  I then stopped to buy their cd’s and we chatted.  What a surprise in dour and uninspiring KL, love songs and music about spring, and of excellent quality. I am thoroughly enjoying my cd’s. 

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Responses

  1. It’s true, Seachanges. Love stories seem to be “out” today, something that is one of the most important aspects of our lives has been disdainfully set aside in libraries. I remember those stories by Russian authors which are still like a lighthouse in the world of literature, I don’t mean cloying, oversweet stories – which are alright, too – but those involving the dark aspects of the human soul in fight with its bright aspects.

    Your experience in King’s Lynn – I hadn’t the slightest this town existed – shows that tastes, in this case musical ones, are the same everywhere.

    Very human indeed.

  2. Of course, authors like the Bronte sisters are still as up-to-date as they were when they lived. Or Daphne du Maurier, and others whose names I can’t remember now.

  3. The article you reference makes some good points (there does seem to be a preference at the moment in award-giving and big newspaper reviews for more abstract topics). But I think that is merely the fault of some inherent snobbery in those particular outlets. Love seems to be flourishing in so-called chick-lit novels (where often the narrative craft is much stronger than in presumed ‘literary’ novels).

    I must say I still find it odd to see people refer to Lolita as a love story though (as in the Tim Lott article) and not a story of male oppression and abuse. But that is possibly because I had a rather anti-patriarchal, feminist upbringing…

  4. Jose: yes, the Russians: Anna Karenina springs to mind immediately. My all time favourite.

    As far as Kings Lynn is concerned: I only realised it existed when I went for an interview and driving up I thought the road would never end until reached it, got the job and moved to Norfolk (not KL)… Have left the job aeons ago but stayed in Norfolk..
    x

    reluctantscribe: I so agree about Lolita and I am so glad your ‘anti-patriarchal, feminist upbringing’ is paying off! Lolita’s one of the darker sides of what ‘love’ means to some, a misinterpretation of the word?
    x

  5. Lolita. I agree with you both. It’s really disgusting.

  6. I think the whole notion about love has been cheapened, unfortunately. In the old days when these great literature gave tribute to love, we used to read them as something holy. Now love has been reduced by mass media as, excuse me, sexual sensation.

    Anna Karenina is certainly one of the most touching stories about love. I’m re-reading it for the Russian challenge. 🙂

  7. I was really interested to read Tim Lott’s article in the Guardian and thought you might be keen to have a look at the web site that we have just launched. We hope the site will encourage people to read and write about love in a fresh new way that is real, without embarrassment.

  8. Trish: your very welcome. I’ll keep an eye on your website.


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