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978-0-19-509361-2 / 0195093615

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About the book:

Exhilarating, poignant, passionate, lyrical, amusing or inspiring, the selections in The World Treasury of Love Stories are as rich and varied as love itself. While the lion's share of the stories explore romantic love and its many stages and masks, this remarkable anthology is neither conventional nor predictable. Rather than trying to represent the entire tradition of the love story, editor Lucy Rosenthal has searched the world's literature to select thirty-eight stunningly beautiful and wholly original entries, choosing only those that speak most memorably, and most directly, to our own time.

While each story stands on its own, together this finely crafted collection is a looking glass into the many moods of love, from the sweep and ferocity of Verga's The Wolf; to the lyric realism of Chekhov's Lady with the Pet Dog; to the disillusioned ache and unexpected tenderness of Raymond Carver's Fever. From James Joyce's Ulysses, here are Molly Bloom's life-affirming, stream-of-consciousness recollections of key erotic episodes; at the other end of the spectrum is John Updike's "Separating," a devastatingly precise portrait of the dismantling of a marriage. Though both stories grapple with the theme of lost or unattainable love, Yasunari Kawabata's delicately traced Moon on the Water could not be further removed from Gail Godwin's earthy and ironic "My Lover, His Summer Vaction." Within this rich diversity, however, strong parallels emerge. Yukio Mishima's "Patriotism," for example, is set in the imperial Japan of 1936, and steeped in the elite traditions of the samurai, while Isaac Bashevis Singer's "Short Friday" depicts a poor Eastern European tailor and his wife as they go about their ritual preparations for the Sabbath; both stories offer powerful and unforgettable treatments of marital fidelity. Stories by Colette, Italo Calvino, Gustave Flaubert, Nadine Gordimer, Henry James, D. H. Lawrence, Alice Walker, Edith Wharton, and many others complement and echo each other's themes as they explore the nuances of love and loss, betrayal and devotion, as if the love stories themselves were love letters, forging links among writers across separate worlds and centuries.

Ranging from The Book of Ruth to the contemporary observations of today's finest fiction writers, The World Treasury of Love Stories is destined to become a classic. Enhanced with a thoughtful introduction by Lucy Rosenthal, with illuminating notes on the life and work of each contributor, it will captivate anyone who has every wondered, "What is this thing called love?"

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