Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ten literary lessons about love

"In our quest to reach romantic nirvana, we turn to self-help manuals, daytime TV, magazines, talk shows, friends, relatives, and shrinks," notes the publisher's description of Much Ado About Loving: What Our Favorite Novels Can Teach You About Date Expectations, Not So-Great Gatsbys, and Love in the Time of Internet Personals by Jack Murnighan and Maura Kelly, "But we’ve forgotten a far better source of wisdom: the timeless stories written by the great novelists."

Christian Science Monitor contributor Molly Driscoll collected ten literary lessons in love from the Murnighan-Kelly volume, including:
The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald classic The Great Gatsby follows protagonist Jay Gatsby (whose real name is Jimmy Gatz) as he transforms himself into a member of New York's 1920s jazz-era upper class. Gatsby hosts parties at his mansion but his real hope is that Daisy Buchanan – a woman he once dated but who is now married to someone else – will show up one night. This book is the go-to example of a character who is pining for someone else. But, ask Murnighan and Kelly, is it really healthy? Building your entire life around someone you're not even in a relationship with is unrealistic and means you're focusing entirely on them and not on what's best for you. And, as for Daisy, if you're the object of an obsessive affection like Gatsby's, wouldn't you always be worrying about measuring up to the impossible ideal that he's created over the course of years?
Read about another literary lesson on the list.

The Great Gatsby appears among Jim Lehrer's six favorite 20th century novels, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best clocks in literature and ten of the best misdirected messages, Tad Friend's seven best novels about WASPs, Kate Atkinson's top ten novels, Garrett Peck's best books about Prohibition, Robert McCrum's top ten books for Obama officials, Jackie Collins' six best books, and John Krasinski's six best books, and is on the American Book Review's list of the 100 best last lines from novels.

--Marshal Zeringue