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A Lover's Discourse: Fragments
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2002
A personal favourite. Captures admirably the absurdity of it all. Contains gems like 'Even as he obsessively asks himself why he is not loved, the amorous subject lives in the belief that the loved object does love him but does not tell him so.' Also has what is probably the best paragraph ever written on jealousy: 'As a jealous man, I suffer four times over: because I am jealous, because I blame myself for being so, because I fear my jealousy will wound the other, because I allow myself to be subject to a banality: I suffer from being excluded, from being aggressive, from being crazy and from being common.'
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Some readers may find this book difficult. Barthes never attempts to give us a uniform narrative about love. Instead, as the title implies, he provides us with fragments--some of which come from literature and some from his own philisophical musings--of a lover's point of view. Since childhood, we are taught to think of love as a singualar entity. Whether it is God's love, marriage, passion, or patriotism, we are taught to think of love as a unique, and exclusive prize. But as Barthes' points out, love is built upon fragments, many of which are mundane.
The most compelling part of "Lover's Discourse" is Barthe's dissection of the phrase, "I love you". Drawing upon literary examples and common sense, Barthes asks us what we mean when we state that we love someone. Do we love what they do for us? Do we love how they make us feel? Do we love the idea of them? Are we in love with love itself? This concept is born out by the protagonist Merseault, in Camus' novel, "A Happy Death". The first thing Merseault says to his lover when she wakes up in the morning is, "hello image".
"Lover's Discourse" extracts love from ideology and examines it under a microscope. We may be confused by what we see, and we may not like it, but the view contains more than a glimmer of reality.
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on November 25, 2000
This book is not an easily accessible checklist,rapidly readable, of the manifestations and anguishes of being 'in love.' The ordinary reader has to set him/herself to the Herculean task of understanding Barthes and picking each amazing fragment apart until recognition cuts through, like a dagger in the heart (if one reads while in the throes). The acute perception of the Parisian review is immediately recognizable to anyone caught on the sharp tines of love who has read "A Lover's Discourse," reached for it in moments of desperation, and found it a sort of lifeline. The book is "punishing," as was said, but solace will be afforded just by seeing the relentless torments and wretched states of being put into precise words - having it all dissected and explained, if not ameliorated. An enamoured person could find exquisite (if temporary) relief in that alone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2003
I LOVE this book - it made me reflect deeply about love - what is and what it involves. There are sad statements with it but there are also some parts that make you smile!
Love complicates things and suffering is a great part of it as most of us either know already or will eventually (hopefully!)
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on April 5, 1999
Very, very difficult to read. Not because it is hyper-intellectual and most everyone will need a dictionary on each page. This book is so difficult because it taps into the heart of the crazy abyss of love. It seemed at times as if the book could only be understood by someone in the madness of love as s/he reads it. Having loved before is not enough: the details and precision applied to this insanity are too exact, too punishing, too passionate for me to believe that this book can make the same sense for those in love as for those out of it. By the same token, to read this while in love can be a demolishing experience. To know that this passion has been felt and analyzed so well by someone of towering intellect is little solace to the solitude one feels reading these words. A brilliant and disturbing book.
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on April 8, 2002
Barthes's fascination with Structuralism is abundant in this examination of the terms that could perhaps summarize the incomplete thoughts of an anxious lover. He asserts that the thoughts and words of a lover remain suspended-- they show themselves as thin representations of the truth that lurks in the the lover. Sentences trail off, remain unfulfilled, and are swallowed by frustration. Reading this, it is easy to say, "No kidding! I'm so glad that someone could put this into words!" And that is the torture of his paradox. The words are weak-- the thesaurus will forever be incomplete. The text is a work of metafiction, if ever there were one. Easy to read; yet compelling, Barthes is the essence of the bittersweet.
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on January 22, 2000
All academic works should be modeled after this one. To make literature speak: to make the text yearn, cry, fear, love, and affirm. The pleasure of the text?
Is this a book about human love? Or is it also a book about loving the word? Does the lover love a beloved? Or is the beloved really the word?
This book is for those of us who cannot participate in reality as it is, but who are always filtering the lived moment through the books that we have read. This book which seeks to affirm at a time of discontent and irony, affirms us in the end.
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on June 13, 1998
if you have ever suffered from the feeling of love, desire to know more about whom you love and lack of discourse with her/him, you should read this, which'll help you understand where you are, why you are suffering from it, and realize your situation more objectively. Another virtue of this book is its delicate and adequate style in every phrase and detail. Please try it. And I hope perfect accomplishment of your beautiful love, whether it is one-sided or not. Lastly, be faithful to yourself, your lover and your love.
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on November 18, 2002
This book is not only about 'love' or 'lovers',but also about life and being. With sentences down to earth, and easy to understand, Barthes displays the essence of postmodern thoughts. By reading these fragments, you will be able to understand difficult philosophical terms not as pedantic knowledge, but as the maxim that you'd be relied upon for your own contemplation.
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on January 1, 2001
Barthes dissects Love,analyzing it whit the painstaking precision of a skilled forensic.Here you see what one feels when Love,the very hope of it,is like a fallen leaf in a cold winter morning.This is a very sad book,but illuminating,even amusing,in some parts;but alas,fragments are all that remains,when one loves too long in vain.
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