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Love and Friendship [Hardcover]

Allan David Bloom

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Book Description

Jun 1993
The author of the national bestseller The Closing of the American Mind offers a provocative indictment of the devaluing of love and intimacy in today's culture. Allan Bloom explores the language of love from the Bible to Freud, shedding penetrating light on the true nature of our most basic human connections. "(A) rich mine of a book".--New York Daily News.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 590 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Printing edition (Jun 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067167336X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671673369
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 16 x 4.6 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 970,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Begging the Kirkus Review's pardon 7 May 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Are the folks at Kirkus really suggesting that good things necessarily last forever? Are the poor stewardship of following generations and the sad inevitable decay of all things, good and bad, entirely unimportant? In the same way that a dish of my favorite ice cream will surely melt, so will Rome fall eventually. But what does that have to do with anything? As Whit Stillman has indicated in "Metropolitan", ceasing to exist is not evidence of failure - we all cease to exist, but we are not all failures. Bloom's books (and the books of his fellow "Straussians") are, in this reader's opinion, the closest thing to clarity we have in books these days. Intelligent, elegant, romantic, penetrating. If Kirkus has a better suggestion for remedying the "contractual" nature of relationships (which IS out there - take a sympathetic look), I await it with anticipation. Bloom's commentaries on Tolstoy, Shakespeare et al are clear and free of abstraction - the antidote to the glut of theoretical (read: unerotic) drudgery that exists out there on the subject of love. Perhaps Bloom doesn't say it all, but he shows a filial loyalty to those who have come close, which is surely more than we expect nowadays.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reclaiming "Eros" 28 July 2003
By A. Sura - Published on
"Eros" is commonly misinterpreted today as the physical and psychological longing associated the sexual act. Bloom argues that this post-Freudian notion of eros is a dilapidated and impoverished one. "Eros" was not killed merely by Freud, but by his lineage of social scientists, who attempted to de-eroticize "eros" by placing it in the context of meaningless statistics and power-conflict. "Eros" was no longer a romantic notion; it rather became the victim of flakey postmodern and feminist theory that attempted to deconstruct and politicize it. What could be more unromantic than that?
Since it is impoverished from its original Greek meaning, how is it possible to capture the the historical breadth, the romantic essence and the philosophical depth of "eros"? This question represents Bloom's project in 'Love and Friendship.'
'Love and Friendship' analyzes pre-freudian authors of literature who can shed light on the nature of "eros:" Rousseau, Plato, Stendahl, Austen, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Flaubert. Bloom eschews questionable postmodern hermeneutics (queer theory, feminism, etc.) of these works. Instead, he employs textualist (or literalist) hermeneutics in unfolding the true meaning of these works. To be sure, just as no one photograph can tell us what a table truly looks like, no one author reveals the true essence of "eros." However, many different photographs shed light on the various dimensions of a table, just as a textual analysis of great literature gives us a truer philosophical understanding of romantic love.
This book is a gem. Bloom, who lashes out at the animalism of postmodernity in his seminal 'Closing', extends his project by engaging politicized literary theory on their own turf. However, unlike 'Closing,' this book is not aimed at the ill-read. It would be more prudent for one to read first some of the works analyzed in this book. (e.g. Red and Black, Anna Karenina, Emile, Symposium, Pride and Prejudice, Antony and Cleopatra, etc.) Such background reading is requisite to appreciate and criticize Bloom's analysis.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The longing for completion--and how we pursue it 29 July 2001
By Richard Crowder - Published on
Bloom uses the term eros broadly, to cover all forms of the longing for completion--from the love of a beautiful beloved to the love of wisdom. Ranging broadly over the history of Western literature and philosophy, he also goes deep. For each book he covers, he provides a detailed summary that effectively introduces the book to the new reader, along with commentary that illuminates the book's contribution to our ideas of love, friendship, and what they and we can be at our best. I have reservations about Bloom's treatment of Nietzsche, whom he discusses briefly here and there. But having read almost all of the books he covers in full-length chapters, I find those chapters faithful to their spirit. The section on Shakespeare has been published separately, but the others are equally good. The concluding chapters on Montaigne and Plato are especially striking in the clarity and force with which they present these authors' challenge to conventional notions about living well.
27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deeply Spiritual Love Is Rare In Any Age 19 Jan 2001
By Daniel Myers - Published on
This book is not objective. Bloom has an axe to grind. Not that there is intrinsically wrong in this, but....Caveat Lector. Just why Bloom developed such a deeply engrained animus to the modern age is impossible to tell and the biographies that are sure to come out in the near future (I don't consider Ravelstein a biography in any sense of the word. Saul Bellow has axes to grind too.) will be interesting reads.-The basic problem I have with the book is this: The type of deep spiritual (Romantic, with a capital R) love that Bloom regards as lost in our society has always been rare. It has been confined to those who have had a cultured upbringing combined with an inborn sensitivity and spirituality. What has happened in our demotic age is that, as Bloom perfectly puts it, "Sure, you can be a romantic today if you so choose, but it is a little like being a virgin in a whorehouse. It just doesn't fit with the temper of the times and gets no support in the current atmosphere." So what? It's still Romantic love. And our age is not alone in this temper. In more or less all ages, the vast majority of the people have regarded this type of love as, well, "silly and immature." Bloom himself admits this in the chapter on Stendhal where he states, "Stendhal appears unable to depict a fully ripe man. Successful maturity is doubtful for him, and he may in this reflect a problem with the Romantic mood altogether." The most clear passage in the book, the one that comes closest to hitting at what Bloom's all about here comes in the chapter on Anna Karenina where Bloom says,"...there is an alien impression...of a gracious, semi-aristocratic civility that is now so far away from anything we can experience or hope to experience in our daily lives. The relationships of love and friendship have a delicacy and involvement with higher concerns that almost seem inauthentic. Rather than a model for our own lives, the social scene seems to be reminiscent of a lost world where people had the leisure to attempt to make works of art of their lives." It is this "lost world" that Bloom hungers for. In other words, Bloom wants us to go back to Queen Victoria and the following Belle Epoque, when the focus of society's lens was on these priveleged few. It is curious that Bloom chooses this attack on the modern world from a book in which the heroine commits suicide by laying herself in the path of an oncoming train bacause of that society's narrow conventions.-But, please don't get me wrong. I actually LIKE this book because it focuses on the most important things in life: spiritual love and friendship. It's just that Bloom expects too much and has somehow deluded himself into thinking that there was a Golden Age when it was the norm. It has always ben rare, and I don't see why Bloom is such a sourpuss about it. One gets the feeling that some deep hurt has been done to him, and now is the time for vindication. For some reason, Bloom wants us to believe that spiritual love is extinct when it is merely out of the limelight, where it is actually more authentic. After all, the most common adjective associated with the Victorian age is "hypocritical." -But the book is interesting, erudite and worth the read. Just don't get the idea that all is lost.-That part is just Bloomean bosh.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Please allow enough time, patience, and attention to absorb this wonderful book. 5 Nov 2007
By E3 - Published on
One would need to go back to this book aqain and again, in order to fully appreciate its depth and thoughfulness. Ideally, one would have read all the books Bloom refers to, in order to have a real grasp of what he is saying, but it is not essential. Bloom stays close to the various author's intent, in describing their thoughts, and so reading this book is not only an inspiriation, it is an education in itself. I cannot recommend it highly enough!!!
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