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SueK

Greatest love story ever written?

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I'm starting this as it made be think after reading a few comments on the Dr Zhivago post in the Classics thread, and that the book was possibly misquoted as the Greatest Love Story every written (the movie's fault, in my view), I started to wonder what would indeed be the greatest.

 

As I write this, I haven't a clue, but will put my thinking cap on and will try to come up with one or two ideas.

 

Interested to know your views though in the meantime:).

Edited by Michelle
made a mistake in title but can't edit it! [fixed for you - Michelle :)]

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Such a good thread!!

 

For me it would have to be Pride and Prejudice. I know it's the most obvious love story but that's probably because it's the greatest.

 

I've read it a million times and have the BBC adaptation on DVD which I watch every other month. I just love it! ;)

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It depends on your interpretation of "great" I suppose. Is it the storuy itself? Is it that the characters overcome huge odds and obstacles to be together no matter what? Is it that the characters are perfect for one another?

 

Wuthering Heights is often cited as being a great love story, but to me it's more about obsession.

 

Romeo and Juliet is another "great love story", but once again, I think their relationship is incredibly obsessive, ending in their double suicide!

 

How about Jane Eyre? She sticks by her guns and refuses to marry a man who is already married, even though she loves him completely and the thought of being apart from him is dreadful to her. She loves him in spite of (or even because of?) all his faults and even sticks by him when he thinks all is lost. They overcome ever obstacle to be together, but neither of them is diminished by the relationship - they are equals and each has their own thoughts and moral standpoints. THAT, to me, is a great love story - possibly the greatest one ever.

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I would probably say Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities. I've never come across such passionate and unselfish love in any other book I've read. Those of you who have read the book must know who I'm talking about.

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Some interesting books mentioned so far. Yes I would have to agree with the likes of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre although I also agree that Wuthering Heights was more about obsession than love.

 

I would like to add Dicken's Great Expectations - in spite of the way Estelle treated Pip until the end, it was a great love story. To an extent, Rebecca is a good love story - Mrs De W's love for Maxim triumphs over a lot of adversity. In Gone with the Wind, the love interest in question is Tara and Ashley Wilkes and of course Scarlett herself:)

 

H E Bates wrote some good love stories, Love for Lydia and Fair Stood the Wind for France stand out.

 

Mmm, will have to think of some more.

Edited by SueK

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Another question to ask: is it only Classics that are worth mentioning or do you think modern writers can write a great love story too?

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Another question to ask: is it only Classics that are worth mentioning or do you think modern writers can write a great love story too?

 

Oh I don't think I'd limit it to classics, although if it is a great book and therefore, a great love story, it could well become a classic in time. Who knows though, there may well be a great love story in the Mills and Boon range that we don't know of;)

 

Love in the Time of Cholera has been mentioned as a great love story, (I personally didn't enjoy the book at all) but that has become a modern classic.

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Whenever I think of great love stories, I do think of classics, or certainly books that seem to be standing the test of time.

 

I know a lot of people cite Pride and Prejudice, but I think Persuasion is the better love story from Austen, and I also adore A Room With A View by E. M. Forster.

 

Trying to think of modern books that may still make an impression on me in the years to come, and the ones that stick out are The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith. I read TTTW two and a half years ago and remember shedding tears over it, while I read GMB just last year and it was a totally uplifting, joyous depiction of love.

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It depends on your interpretation of "great" I suppose. Is it the storuy itself? Is it that the characters overcome huge odds and obstacles to be together no matter what? Is it that the characters are perfect for one another?

 

Wuthering Heights is often cited as being a great love story, but to me it's more about obsession.

 

Romeo and Juliet is another "great love story", but once again, I think their relationship is incredibly obsessive, ending in their double suicide!

 

How about Jane Eyre? She sticks by her guns and refuses to marry a man who is already married, even though she loves him completely and the thought of being apart from him is dreadful to her. She loves him in spite of (or even because of?) all his faults and even sticks by him when he thinks all is lost. They overcome ever obstacle to be together, but neither of them is diminished by the relationship - they are equals and each has their own thoughts and moral standpoints. THAT, to me, is a great love story - possibly the greatest one ever.

 

Jane Eyre was the first book that came to my mind ;)

 

I would probably say Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities. I've never come across such passionate and unselfish love in any other book I've read. Those of you who have read the book must know who I'm talking about.

 

Tale of Two Cities is on my reading list :)

 

Some interesting books mentioned so far. Yes I would have to agree with the likes of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre although I also agree that Wuthering Heights was more about obsession than love.

 

I would like to add Dicken's Great Expectations - in spite of the way Estelle treated Pip until the end, it was a great love story. To an extent, Rebecca is a good love story - Mrs De W's love for Maxim triumphs over a lot of adversity. In Gone with the Wind, the love interest in question is Tara and Ashley Wilkes and of course Scarlett herself:)

 

H E Bates wrote some good love stories, Love for Lydia and Fair Stood the Wind for France stand out.

 

Mmm, will have to think of some more.

 

I love Rebecca! Why didn't I think of that! It is a brilliant love story and the couple get through a LOT together!

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The greatest love stories for me are Pride & Prejudice, Wuthering Heights and The Time Traveller's Wife - all amazing love stories in one way or another ;)

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... and I also adore A Room With A View by E. M. Forster.

Now, THAT'S a great love story. As is Howard' End - love of family, love in the romantic sense, and love of a place all rolled into one. I love E M Forster!

 

To an extent, Rebecca is a good love story - Mrs De W's love for Maxim triumphs over a lot of adversity.

Beautiful, sweeping love story there!

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The greatest love stories for me are Pride & Prejudice, Wuthering Heights and The Time Traveller's Wife - all amazing love stories in one way or another ;)

 

That one definitely makes my list of great love stories. :)

 

Also, I haven't read it yet, but Love in the Time of Cholera sounds (from the synopsis) to be a very romantic love story.

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For me it has to be The Time Travellers Wife, a beautiful and modern love story.

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Eeeerm...I think she meant romantic love.

 

I think that the greatest one is Wuthering Heights. I don't agree with those saying it was more obsession that love. The way I see it, it was the highest level of (romantic) love that someone can reach. Atonement was also beautiful, I cried so bad when I saw it on cinema

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I haven't read Wuthering Heights yet but I definitely agree with Pride and Prejudice and A Tale of Two Cities. The former kept me intrigued to see how their relationship would progress, and the latter had me crying buckets.

 

And while this thread may not be about the love of friends, I can't help but mention Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

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And while this thread may not be about the love of friends, I can't help but mention Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

 

I remember studying that book in Grade 10. I remember

the ending just completely devestated me.

 

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And while this thread may not be about the love of friends, I can't help but mention Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

Well mentioned Kylie! It is a powerful story of love.

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Actually, I didn't mean it to be just romantic love although I appreciate that it would push the boundaries of the thread quite far out. Hence my mention of Gone with the Wind as Scarlett loved herself and Tara more than any man.

 

I tried to read Atonement (many times) but found it such a slow burner I gave up (many times) but would like to see the film.

 

The Bible did cross my mind as well ...... but perhaps it should be kept to the confines of romantic love or we'll be here forever:blush:

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Much as I adore the witty exchanges of "Pride & Prejudice", I'd have to say "Persuasion": Anne and Capt. Wentworth's love stands everything time, distance and opinion throw their way - Wentworth's letter at the end always makes me blubber:

I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own, than when you almost broke it eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone I think and plan. - Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? - I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice, when they would be lost on others. - Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating in F.W. I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening or never.



... *sigh*!

 

A few worthy mentions:

 

Eponine's unrequited love for Marius in Hugo's "Les Miserablés" is beautiful, the way she

sacrifices her life to save his on the barricades even though he doesn't love her back is stunningly sad.

In the same book, though I think Cosette herself is a bit of a wet rag, Marius's letter to her (recounted in a chapter which goes by the lovely title of 'A Heart Under a Stone", I.e. the stone he placed his letter under) contains some of the best descriptions of what love feels like that I have ever read:

 

(...) How great is the void created by the absence of the being who alone fills the world. How true it is that the beloved becomes God. It is understandable that God would grow jealous if the Father of All Things had not so evidently created all things for the soul, and the soul for love. (...) God is behind all things, but all things conceal God. Objects are black and human creatures are opaque. To love a person is to render them transparent. (...) Love partakes of the soul, being of the same nature. Like the soul, it is the divine spark, incorruptible, indivisible, imperishable. It is the fiery particle that dwells in us, immortal and infinite, which nothing can confine and nothing extinguish. We feel its glow in the marrow of our bones and see its brightness reaching to the depths of heaven. (...) Each of us, whoever he may be, has his breathing self. Lacking this, or lacking air, we suffocate. And then we die. To die for lack of love is terrible. It is the stifling of the soul. (...) 'Does she still visit the Luxembourg?'...'No, Monsieur'... 'It is in this church, is it not, that she attends Mass?' ...'She does not come here any more'...'Does she still live in this house?'...'She has moved elsewhere'...'Where has she gone to live?'...'She did not say.' How grievous not to know the address of one's soul! (...) Oh, to lie side by side in the same tomb and now and then caress with a finger-tip in the shades, that will do for my eternity! You who suffer because you love, love still more. To die of love is to live by it. (...) Woe, alas, to those who have loved only bodies, forms, apperances! Death will rob them of everything. Try to love souls, you will find them again. I encountered in the street a penniless young man who was in love. His hat was old and his jacket worn, with holes at the elbows; water soaked through his shoes, but starlight flooded through his soul. (...)

 

Dostoevskij's "White Nights", though the ?!#@!!!?? ending prevents me from awarding it the title of greatest love story, also contains some beautiful passages about love - reccommended, but bring on the hankies.

 

As someone who's done more than their fair share of Shakespeare, I would agree with those who doubt "Romeo and Juliet" as greatest love story - they, after all, barely knew one another. Then again, love at first sight is not a fiction, and I cry every time I see it. Still, I think Will's best portrayals of love are Viola's towards Orsino in "Twelfth Night" (disguised as a page, she's sent by him to woo another woman who promptly falls in love with her; she stands by Orsino even as he praises the perfections of the other woman, and explains how men's love is stronger than that of women) and Julia's towards Proteus in "Two Gentlemen of Verona" (she disguises as a boy to go find him; when she does she discovers he has forsaken her in favour of Sylvia, his best friend's beloved; he sends her to Sylvia with the ring she'd given to him before he left, and because of the love she still bears him she is unable to refuse).

[i'll stop now.]



Carl-Johan Valgreen's "The Horrific Suggerings of Mind-Reading Monster Hercules Barefoot, his Wonderful Love and his Terrible Hatred" 's original title better translates as "The Story of a Wonderful Love", which it is: this easily gets my non-classic mention. I defy anyone to read of Hercule's trials in the name of love and put the book down dry-eyed.

 

Ok, I think that's probably enough for one post ;).

Edited by BookJumper
spoiler works now - for some reason, specifying the text to be black causes the problem.

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Well it has to be JANE EYRE, but I'd also suggest WAR & PEACE - a wonderful love triangle with 2 very different men in love with Natasha.

 

As for great modern love stories... Charles Frazier's COLD MOUNTAIN would get my vote.

 

(Btw I think PERSUASION is a much better love story than P & P.)

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Just thought of another one ..... Phantom of the Opera - a lovely story of unrequited love. Makes me sad to think about it.

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