Cristina Nehring --> reviewed by Bruce S. Thornton -->

Of all the cultural inventions of the West, romantic love is surely one of the most curious. The notion that sex and sexual passion, rooted in the material body, can be a vehicle for transcendence beyond the physical is rather bizarre. Even a prototypical Romantic like Lord Byron had his doubts. He chastises Plato, whose writings on the transcendent powers of Eros are some of the earliest precursors to this idea, for his “confounded fantasies”—ultimately, nothing but fancy pretexts for fornication.

However incoherent, romantic love has had remarkable staying power. Today it provides the default attitudes toward sexual passion not just in the West, but elsewhere as well, through a...


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