The World’s Greatest Love Letters – Compiled by Michael Kelahan
Remember months and months ago, when I mentioned that I was reading 10 books at once? Well, The World’s Greatest Love Letters compiled by Michael Kelahan was one of them. Although it’s pretty short, it took me up until just a few days ago to finally finish, because I was only reading a few letters at a time (it’s been a great book to dip into during those moments when I haven’t had time to sit down with a regular-length chapter). But with Valentine’s Day coming up, I figured now was the perfect moment to get my rear in gear and finish it in time to post a review!
One thing I really enjoyed about the book was that it didn’t have a specific focus as far as time period or style were concerned. Penned by both men and women from 1132, all the way up through the turn of the 20th century, they speak of the glorious highs and the lowest lows that only love can incur.
From “Refined Love,” “Adoring Love,” and “Married Love,” to “Unrequited Love,” “Mad Love,” and “Love on the Rocks” – at the end of the day these 100 love letters were really delightful, and interesting to read. Not only were they full of beautiful prose, but it was fascinating to have an intimate peek into the lives and relationships of some of the greatest loves of our time, (who knew Napoleon Bonaparte was such a romantic??).
For those of you who feel like you were born in the wrong time period – this book will leave you convinced. I mean, really, we don’t even know the meaning of eloquence, these days! And since I have no hope of capturing such eloquence myself, I’ll stop while I’m ahead, and leave you with a few of my favorite lines:
“I must tell you myself how well I love you. I have too much pleasure in experiencing this sentiment not to have also pleasure in repeating it to you a thousand times, if that were possible.” -Marquis de Lafayette
“Let us look forward to the coming anniversaries, with their age and their gray hairs, without fear and without depression, trusting and believing that the love we bear each other will be sufficient to make them blessed.” -Mark Twain
“But that happiness which in others is sometimes the effect of fancy, in me was the child of evidence. They might think their husbands perfect, and were happy in the idea, but I knew you were such, and the universe knew the same.” -Heloise
“Could I but have held you close to my heart and whispered to you the strange secrets of its passionate history, then indeed you would have seen that it was not and never could have been in the power of any other than yourself to move me as I am now moved.” -Edgar Allan Poe
Have you read The World’s Greatest Love Letters? What did you think? Do you think anything can be gained by reading the correspondence between lovers of yore, or do you think it only builds unrealistic expectations for today?