“Essays In Love” by Alain de Botton

“Essays in Love” is my first book by a modern philosopher Alain de Botton and to be frank, I have quite enjoyed it. The book is a compilation of essays on the process of love – but let’s go in detail.

In the book, Botton walks us through the process of love but not in the usual sense that we are used to. He walks us through the process that a human goes through internally – what we feel or think when first falling in love, when being in love and eventually drawing apart. He does draw on his love story with Chloe, a girl he meets on the plane from Paris to London but the essays themselves are written in a more internalized way as rather than on specific external events. In his essays, the process of love is depicted as an internal cyclical event. And exactly what I loved about this book – its unique, unusual perspective.

Botton’s style is funny, interesting, engaging and at the same time provocative in a sense that it stimulates you to think and often you catch yourself nodding your head to his thoughts and philosophical musings thinking “Oh yes, this is true, this is how it feels, this is how it goes”, Botton is a pleasant philosopher to read and I will definitely be looking into more of his work in the future. In the meantime, here are some of my favourite quotes as usual:

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“When you have been in love, it is not the length of time that matters, it is everything you’ve felt and done coming out intensified. To me, it is one of the few times when life isn’t elsewhere.”

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If Chloe and I continued despite all this to believe that we were in love, it was perhaps because the affection far outweighed the boredom and the indifference. Yet we always remained aware that we had chosen to call love might be an abbreviation for a far more complex, and ultimately less palatable reality.”

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There is a tyranny about perfection, a certain tedium even, something that asserts itself with all the dogmatism of a scientific formula. The more tempting kind of beauty has only a few angels from which it may be seen, and then not in all lights and at all times. It flirts dangerously with ugliness, it takes risks with itself, it does not side comfortably with mathematical rules of proportion, it draws its appeal from precisely those details that also lend themselves to ugliness. As Proust once said, classically beautiful women should be left to men without imagination.”

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“To be loved by someone is to realize how much they share the same needs that lie at the heart of our own attraction to them. Albert Camus suggested that we fall in love with people because from the outside, they look so whole, physically whole and emotionally together – when subjectively, we feel dispersed and confused. We would not love if there were no lack within us, but we are offended by the discovery of a similar lack in the other. Expecting to find the answer, we find only the duplicate of our own problems.”

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I think it is evident from the first few paragraphs that I really enjoyed this work of Botton so more reading is to come!

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