The Romance of Literature

Yes, I know February is past us, but it still isn’t too late for a romance themed post, as it’s an everlasting subject in literature. After all, it’s perfect writing fodder – every experience is unique, yet universal, but largely inconclusive. We will never get to the bottom of this mystery, which is why it will continue to fascinate writers for all time. Here, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite literary sentiments (focusing mainly on prose), from classics to modernity.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This list wouldn’t be complete without Fitzgerald’s magnum opus. “Gatsby” is perhaps an unparalleled examination of the power love, or the idea of it, holds over us.

“There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams — not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.”

A Movable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Image Courtesy of Kourtney Cribbs

 

“But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.”

Here, Hemingway illustrates the tendency to romanticize not only the love itself, but everything surrounding it, even in rough times.

The Catcher in Rye by J.D. Salinger

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Even though she never technically appears in the book, Jane Gallagher is an important character in “Catcher.” The way Holden describes her to his audience is one of the most touching scenes in the book, and nails the simplicity of love, young or otherwise.

“Most girls if you hold hands with them, their goddam hand dies on you, or else they think they have to keep moving their hand all the time, as if they were afraid they’d bore you or something. Jane was different. We’d get into a goddam movie or something, and right away we’d start holding hands, and we wouldn’t quit till the movie was over. And without changing the position or making a big deal out of it. You never even worried, with Jane, whether your hand was sweaty or not. All you knew was, you were happy. You really were.”

Intimacy by Raymond Carver

I love how Carver handles the feeling of love lost in this short story, in which a writer goes to visit his ex-wife. Even through anger and resentment, there’s still so much longing.


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