Every New Years, people around us seem to pop up rings and wedding vows. But do they know what love is? Here, some of this planet's most successful writers tell us what they think.
"A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved." -The Sirens of Titan
“Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only with what you are expecting to give — which is everything.”
"Love is like a fever which comes and goes quite independently of the will. … there are no age limits for love."
C. S. Lewis, in The Four Loves:
"There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell."
Lemony Snicket in Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid:
"Love can change a person the way a parent can change a baby — awkwardly, and often with a great deal of mess."
Susan Sontag, whose illustrated insights on love were among last year’s most read and shared articles, in As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980:
"Nothing is mysterious, no human relation. Except love."
Fyodor Dostoyevsky puts it forcefully in The Brothers Karamazov:
"What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love."
Charles Bukowski, who also famously deemed love “a dog from hell”:
"Love is kind of like when you see a fog in the morning, when you wake up before the sun comes out. It’s just a little while, and then it burns away… Love is a fog that burns with the first daylight of reality."
Philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell, he of great wisdom, in The Conquest of Happiness:
"Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness."
Paulo Coelho in The Zahir: A Novel of Obsession:
"Love is an untamed force. When we try to control it, it destroys us. When we try to imprison it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused."
Ambrose Bierce, with the characteristic wryness of The Devil’s Dictionary:
"Love, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage."
Anaïs Nin, whose wisdom on love knew no bounds, in A Literate Passion: Letters of Anaïs Nin & Henry Miller, 1932-1953:
"What is love but acceptance of the other, whatever he is."
Katharine Hepburn in Me : Stories of My Life:
"Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only with what you are expecting to give — which is everything."