The Amorous Heart: An Unconventional History of Love
The symmetrical, exuberant heart is everywhere: it gives shape to candy, pendants, the frothy milk on top of a cappuccino, and much else. How can we explain the ubiquity of what might be the most recognizable symbol in the world?
In The Amorous Heart, Marilyn Yalom tracks the heart metaphor and heart iconography across two thousand years, through Christian theology, pagan love poetry, medieval painting, Shakespearean drama, Enlightenment science, and into the present. She argues that the symbol reveals a tension between love as romantic and sexual on the one hand, and as religious and spiritual on the other. Ultimately, the heart symbol is a guide to the astonishing variety of human affections, from the erotic to the chaste and from the unrequited to the conjugal.
Marilyn Yalom grew up in Washington D.C. and was educated at Wellesley College, the Sorbonne, Harvard and Johns Hopkins. She has been married to the psychiatrist Irvin Yalom for more than sixty years and is the mother of four children and the grandmother of five. She has been a professor of French and comparative literature, director of an institute for research on women, a popular speaker on the lecture circuit, and the author of numerous books and articles on literature and women's history. Her books have been translated into 20 languages. In 1991 she was decorated as an Officier des Palmes Académiques by the French Government.
From Voltaire to Harriet Beecher Stowe, some of the world’s most wonderful thinkers and leaders have written letters to their lovers that have eventually become public. In the collection Love Letters from Great Men and Women these letters of unrequited and reciprocated love across time and cultures highlight one of our most tumultuous and complicated states of being.