An extraordinary history of love, from the ancient Sumerians to Freud
Of all human emotions, love is perhaps the most mysterious, and the most decisive in shaping our destiny. Without it we are unfulfilled. But is it one emotion, or a compound of many?
The Anatomy of Loving captures the color and vitality of human experience and thought on the subject of love, beginning with the seduction poetry of ancient Sumer, and moving to the findings of twentieth-century psychoanalysis. In this brilliant, humanistic exploration, psychoanalyst and scholar Martin Bergmann examines the thinking of figures throughout history who have influenced our notions of love to the present day: Plato and Dante, Shakespeare and Goethe, Chekhov and Stendhal, Madame Bovary and Eliza Doolittle. Medieval courtly love and nineteenth-century romantic love, homosexual and bisexual love—all are examined by Dr. Bergmann as they have been manifested in art and literature.
And, though proponents of psychoanalysis have yet to agree on a single definition of love, Bergmann traces the fine differences made in that discipline between sexuality, narcissism, love and infatuation, sublimated love, and religious love. Above all, Bergmann eloquently delineates how the idea of love serves as a unique crystallization of the longings that suffuse the human heart.
“A learned appreciation . . . The perspectives afforded the reader are at once specialized and rich.”—Partisan Review