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Greatest love story ever written?


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#21 SueK

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 09:01 AM

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:

#22 Adam

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 09:42 AM

The Bible. The love between man and God is unbounded:friends0:


Can I get an AMEN! ;)

#23 BookJumper

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 10:29 AM

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:

Spoiler


... *sigh*!

A few worthy mentions:

Eponine's unrequited love for Marius in Hugo's "Les Miserabl├ęs" is beautiful, the way she
Spoiler
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, 05 August 2010 - 11:52 AM.
spoiler works now - for some reason, specifying the text to be black causes the problem.


#24 Linda Gillard

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 11:25 AM

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.)

#25 SueK

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 11:28 AM

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

#26 ladymacbeth

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 11:33 AM

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?


I guess the reason they are classics is because lesser books have fallen by the wayside and therefore those that have becomes known as classics are truly great books and difficult to match.

I think the greatest love story ever if Pride and Prejudice but I have read that a large number of times and Persuasion only once. I remember Persuasion being my other favourite from Jane Austen's complete works when read 15 years ago.

For modern love stories my vote definitely goes to The Time Traveller's Wife.

However if anyone is looking for a good modern love story, not necessarily great, I can think of Captain Corelli's mandolin, Cross Stitch (also known as Outlander) by Diana Gabaldon, The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons, Twilight of course, the Clan of the Cave Bear series and even Harry Potter!

#27 poppy

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 04:36 AM

I'm reading Wuthering Heights at the moment and agree with the person who said their love was more obsessional than anything else. True love to me should be unselfish and you couldn't find a much more selfish pair than Heathcliff and Catherine. Both are always wishing the other would suffer in their absense or when wronged. It wasn't an act of love for Heathcliff to leave Catherine for three years with no knowledge of his whereabouts and nor was it for Catherine to marry someone else because Heathcliff was penniless and not well-bred. A lot of what both of them did was out of vindictiveness not love.

#28 Kell

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 07:58 AM

I don't read love stories. So, anyone recommend any so I can also post.:lurker:

Any of the ones suggested here are great reads. :)

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.

One of the very best examples of platonic love that I've ever read, I think! Gorgeous book with an incredibly sad ending. ;)

#29 Dimitra

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 11:44 AM

I'm reading Wuthering Heights at the moment and agree with the person who said their love was more obsessional than anything else. True love to me should be unselfish and you couldn't find a much more selfish pair than Heathcliff and Catherine. Both are always wishing the other would suffer in their absense or when wronged. It wasn't an act of love for Heathcliff to leave Catherine for three years with no knowledge of his whereabouts and nor was it for Catherine to marry someone else because Heathcliff was penniless and not well-bred. A lot of what both of them did was out of vindictiveness not love.


Selfishness was their indeed their problem, but I still think it was love.

#30 poppy

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Posted 25 July 2009 - 08:27 AM

Yes, you're right Dimitra, there are many forms of love :lurker:

#31 Adam

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Posted 25 July 2009 - 08:38 AM

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


Good choice :lurker:

#32 MuggleMagic

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Posted 25 July 2009 - 10:38 AM

After a lot of thought it has to be Romeo and Juliet... I watched the film version of it last night. Beautiful tragic story :lurker:

#33 BookJumper

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Posted 25 July 2009 - 06:40 PM

After a lot of thought it has to be Romeo and Juliet... I watched the film version of it last night. Beautiful tragic story

Zeffirelli or Luhrmann (i.e. Di Caprio & Danes)? Incidentally I own both (plus the ballet version, choreographed by Rudolf Nureyev) and think they're brilliant for different reasons - Zeffirelli's lovers are the age they're meant to be in the play (early teens), so even with the period costumes it all feels so real, plus the costumes themselves are stunning; Luhrmann's modernised version actually works quite well I find, I'm not a Di Caprio fan but he plays a decent boyish Romeo, Danes is superb as Juliet, and the Mercutio/Tybalt fight scene always gives me chills... /Shakespeare geek hat off.

#34 Inver

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Posted 25 July 2009 - 06:51 PM

Don't think it is a book but Brief Encounter sprung to mind, with Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard.

#35 Chrissy

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Posted 25 July 2009 - 07:59 PM

'Brief Encounter' was originally a Noel Coward play and I think he wrote the screenplay for the film. Great choice Inver! It's been years since I've seen that film!

#36 RCee

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Posted 25 July 2009 - 10:46 PM

The Greatest Love Story...well, Gone with the Wind was the first book that popped in my mind. I also think Jane Eyre and Rebecca should have a place in that list. I am also going to mention my favourite Austen, Emma.

#37 Adam

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 03:35 AM

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (1992)

Great Canadian novel, I think its Canadian, anyway great story and shows how love can connect people back to humanity after war.

#38 poppy

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 05:37 AM

I was going to say this one Adam ....I loved The English Patient :lurker:

#39 chesilbeach

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 07:45 AM

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (1992)

Great Canadian novel, I think its Canadian, anyway great story and shows how love can connect people back to humanity after war.


I've seen the film, but never read the book. I prefer to read the book before I see the film, which is probably why I've never read it, but my friend has a copy and has always said I should read it, so maybe I'll add it to my TBR shelf.

#40 MuggleMagic

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 08:37 AM

Zeffirelli or Luhrmann (i.e. Di Caprio & Danes)? Incidentally I own both (plus the ballet version, choreographed by Rudolf Nureyev) and think they're brilliant for different reasons - Zeffirelli's lovers are the age they're meant to be in the play (early teens), so even with the period costumes it all feels so real, plus the costumes themselves are stunning; Luhrmann's modernised version actually works quite well I find, I'm not a Di Caprio fan but he plays a decent boyish Romeo, Danes is superb as Juliet, and the Mercutio/Tybalt fight scene always gives me chills... /Shakespeare geek hat off.


The Luhrmann versin :lol:

I like Shakespeare too. Am going to see R&J at the Globe Theatre in August :lol: should be good.




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