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on 22 August 1999
In a world of fuzzy love epitomised by trashy love songs whichbrainwash young people into thinking such things as 'I can't live without you' and 'I love you more than life itself', this book offers an invaluable perspective on just what it is you might be feeling when you 'fall in love' with someone. Indeed, Fromm questions the whole concept of 'falling in love'. One will conclude that there is more 'falling' than there is 'love' in the whole process. He argues that we are better served by 'standing' in love. And how true. While practice makes perfect, and no book can compensate for that, Fromm's enlightenment is sure to raise an eyebrow of awareness among anyone who has ever loved or been loved. While we older, and perhaps wiser, folk may say 'yes, indeed' to Fromm's lucid and thought-provoking work, surely it's the teenage generation which needs this map of the one emotion which is perhaps most prominent in their minds. If you have ever experienced the pain of love, this book will change your attitudes towards the whole emotion, for ultimately you will conclude that where there is love,ie. the real honest variety, there is no pain and there can be no pain. Excellently written, like all Fromm's work, you will want to read it in one sitting.
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on 17 November 2003
Although a short book ... 104 pages .... it has taken me a fortnight to read .... there is not a superfluous sentence in this seminal work on the nature of the "glue" which binds humans to each other ... Fromm raises questions without providing the answers ... knowing that in order to understand .. we have to find the answers within ourselves. Whilst being deeply disturbing it nevertheless enabled me to understand clearly, for the first time in my life, where I have gone wrong in the past, and, at 57 years old, has given me hope that I might just "get it right" before I am too old to enjoy life as it ought to be!
Along with another seminal work ... Conditions of Love by John Armstrong ... it ought to be compulsory reading for every young adult.
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VINE VOICEon 21 September 2011
I picked this book up quite by chance. Am I glad I did! Erich Fromm analyses love in all its forms. His observations on how people's capacity to love can become dysfunctional are so interesting. His analysis of Capitalism and how it actually goes against the principles of love as man becomes so wrapped up in ego and the trap of materialism is illuminating and obvious as it becomes pointed out. He goes into religious love from the aspects of the love of mother to the love of father. Mother's love is unconditional, father's love is conditional. Again, any deviation from this norm can result in all kinds of psychoses to varying degrees. These may range from how a man relates and views women to the very essence of being able to love. It all comes down in many ways to the Eastern philosophy on life being a far better one. To live each moment fully and with focus, to let go of ego, to begin to notice and question, to appreciate nature, and ultimately to be able to give unconditionally. Only then are we really ready to receive. A wonderful book.
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on 29 October 1998
In an age of quick fix self-help formulas on how to love, _The Art of Loving_ stands out as a masterpiece of understanding and insight on the most important topic in human existence. Seeing love as a choice and not a feeling is an essential, but almost universally missed, step in the maturation of an individual and Fromm's analysis on this topic and other aspects of loving is both succinct and profound. This short book is one of the few works that can change your life permanently for the better - the catch being, do you really want to *work* for it?
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on 8 April 2011
This book was written a long time ago and it shows. Whilst I thought the overall message was very good - that is, in order to love you need to develop your entire personality - the book only takes male sexuality into account. The pronoun is always he, except in one or two brief sections where Fromm talks about mothers. He is entirely dismissive of gay people, writing "the homosexual deviation is a failure to attain this polarised union [male/female unity] and thus the homosexual suffers from the pain of never-resolved separateness, a failure, however, which he shares with the heterosexual who cannot love." As a queer person I thought this was an extremely limited view, and if Fromm was so willing to call the love between two consenting adults a 'deviation', then it makes his entire thesis on love suspect; this is especially so if we take into account the fact that the longest chapter in the book, by far, is the section on loving God.

There is a lot to be taken from this text, but it is too brief, too theoretical and too sterile. Fromm states that anyone who came to this book looking for easy guidance about learning to love will be disappointed, but I wonder why he didn't elaborate on the two quite difficult steps the book recommends: first, to meditate and second to learn self-discipline. If you have a philosophical / religious interest in the theme of love, then I recommend this as an antiquated example of what writers on love were thinking in the mid twentieth century. If you actually have a problem, I still recommend it despite its failure to take into account different sexualities, but maybe only after you've read some other texts which *do* offer a few practical tips on getting over your insecurities.
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on 18 November 2006
I nicely written book with engaging style and a good pace in its narration.

Fromm uses object relations theory and social psychology to investigate the nature of love and loving, with insights into varieties of love and loving, such as parental love, love of god, love of fellows, romantic love, self love or self regard.

I found it very interesting how he portrayed the varieties of love, society does tend to elevate some sorts above others and it can foster expectations of love that are unrealistic or downright unhealthy.

With luck, if clarity of this kind where more popular then there would be less murder-suicides by jilted lovers, obsessive behaviour and stalking or even parents failing to treat their children as paramount.

There have been criticisms of Fromm that he is too rationalist or pours cold water upon the idea of soul seering or earth shattering love affairs, classing such ideas as neurotic, I really think that that is a very superficial and unworthy reading of this book.

A great companion to Conditions of Love: The Philosophy of Intimacy, a more philosophical musing on love or Falling in Love another good psychological investigation of the topic.

Edit December 2008:
NB buy the PS edition, the PS section is almost as good as Erich Fromm: His Life and Work - A Pictorial Biography, it incorporates so much about the author, his ideas and how they developed, that for a fan (and the power of this book is such that it could make you an instant fan of Fromm) it could rival the main presentation. Its also a great place to decide what to read next.
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Fromm's book on love where he binds Marx, the Bible, Islam and Bowlby along with(Stirner and Nietzsche) is his crowning glory as he immerses himself in love and he comes out the other side showing how the emotions have been warped and colonised.

The first problem he has identified is that within capitalism people have turned themselves into commodities and this also extends to love. The modern era has allowed the emotion out of the cage whereas previous eons had forced marriages that entailed love flourishing later, if at all. These were marriages based on economics not love. The modern era is awash with the epithet "love" and it has been used from slushy films to love songs to mills and boon.

Love is seen as something that you acquire rather than something you give, people make themselves marketable to acquire love and affection. Drawing on Stirner however, love is not something that is compulsion but something the individual choses not to give or not. Fromm makes the case taking Stirner's idea further that only love can halt despair and provide meaning in life. Without love and the emotional connection with others the individual would fall into a chasm of despair. Love binds people together and halts the waves of meaninglessness that threaten to engulf the individual.

Fromm then looks at the differing types of love and notes that people are bisexual, composed of male and female polarities within themselves. The true relationship is with a woman as this brings into being the cathexis to produce children. This leaves same sex relationships on a different sphere. Fromm also takes a swipe at equality as an enforced homogeneity, pushing people to be the same. This means the individuality becomes lost as people push to belong to the herd.

This is a thin book but each sentence is heavily weighed. It is not a romp through the pages. This says more in a page than most books therefore it is extremely deceptive. This should be taught for all 16-18 year olds as it would save a world of pain for the ensuing years.
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on 6 August 2000
"The Art of Loving" is an essay on all sides of love. The style is that of an analysis, studying love from a theoretical angle most of the time. This makes the text a bit dry and somewhat demanding, but it is full of insight. Among the kinds of love treated are motherly, brotherly, erotically and religious love as well as negative and positive self-love (narcissism vs. "loving your neighbour AS YOURSELF"). Love is seen as the basis for human life, individually and culturally. One could say that the book enlarges on why "love makes the world go around"!
One stylistic point continued to annoy me: The author seems unable to use the word "she". It is purely stylistic - the book is equally about male and female sides of love, and the author is no chauvenist. Probably this style has to do with the fact that the book dates back to 1956. But it is annoying and in some places confusing.
The bottom line: If you want a "how-to" book this is not it. If you want new insight in love and its implications this book should be on your list.
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on 14 February 2015
I read this many years ago on the recommendation of a 'friend'; I was suicidal before I finished. Apart from the spurious parcelling of love into discrete categories, the privileging of "normal" erotic love and the facile designation of non-standard forms of love as "neurotic", I couldn't get past the extraordinarily offensive (and untrue) statement that homosexuality is a failed attempt to capture the unity found in "normal" sexual love, and that the homosexual suffers from "a condition of never-resolved separateness, a condition however which he shares with the heterosexual who cannot love". So that's all right then! You may be sick, but see, so are these others - only they've got a chance to get better, while you haven't. Gee, thanks, Erich! I think he takes the idea of male and female principles too literally - I half-expected him to talk about keys and locks, for Heaven's sake! Admittedly, this book is written in a different time - but maybe that's the point: it should be consigned there, treated as a historical curiosity in the way that books on, say, phrenology or blood-letting might be, not touted as some deep mystical statement of a psychospiritual guru. I'm not saying there's nothing useful in it - but the useful bits are pretty commonplace stuff, while the rest is simply prejudice and misanthropy disguised as psychiatric wisdom. There are far better writers on the subject, and judging by this effort, Erich Fromm is not the best exemplar of the art of loving I've ever encountered. I'd rather have my neighbour's lovely carrot soup!
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on 4 September 1999
As a young girl I read this book because I was searching for answers to life's oldest questions concerning true love. Now 35 years later, while searching for a book to give to my niece who is searching for the same answers to the same questions, I rediscover this incredible book. However, most amazing is the fact I now realize it probably shaped my ideas about life and love and without a doubt is responsible for the choices I made along life's journey in my marriage. I highly recommend this book be read by all young people in this generation and those to come. Thank you Eric Fromm....may God bles.
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