Friday, January 11, 2013

What is Marilyn Yalom reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Marilyn Yalom, author of How the French Invented Love: 900 Years of Passion and Romance.

Her entry begins:
Robert Massie’s Catherine the Great lives up to its best-selling hype. It really is meticulously researched, artfully crafted, and immediately compelling. Surprisingly, this massive biography reads like a novel seen from the point of view of its heroine, the very great Catherine, who comes across as exceedingly human, even approachable, as she ascends to power and learns to command a vast empire. Massie seems to have entered into her skin and given her voice.

Unlike many other rulers, male and female, Catherine left behind a treasure trove of personal as well as state documents. Written in French, Russian, and her native German, these documents give us rare access into Catherine’s mind as she corresponded with French philosophes like Voltaire and Diderot, as she beckoned her lovers in intimate missives, and as she took it upon herself to write a new set of laws for her empire. How this offspring of minor German nobility made her way to Russia as a teenager, was married off to the hapless heir to the Russian crown, learned Russian, changed her religion from Lutheranism to Russian Orthodoxy, got rid of her husband and...[read on]
About How the French Invented Love, from the publisher:
Oh, how the French love love! For hundreds of years, they have championed themselves as guides to the art de l'amour through their literature, paintings, songs, and cinema. A French man or woman without amorous desire is considered defective, like someone missing the sense of smell or taste. Now revered scholar Marilyn Yalom intimately examines the tenets of this culture's enduring gospel of romance.

Basing her delightfully erudite findings on her extensive readings of French literature, as well as memories of her personal experiences in la belle France, Yalom explores the many nuances of love as it has evolved over the centuries, from the Middle Ages to the present. Following along, step-by-step, on her romance-tinged literary detective hunt, the reader discovers how the French invented love, how they have kept it vibrant for more than nine centuries, what is unique in the French love experience, and what is universal.
Learn more about the book and author at Marilyn Yalom's website.

How the French Invented Love is one of Publishers Weekly's top nonfiction books of 2012.

Writers Read: Marilyn Yalom.

--Marshal Zeringue