Saturday, May 17, 2008


Writing Love, Revisited

I posted of my interest in how writers actively write love, or the process of falling in love, while avoiding obvious Hollywood cliches. I'm generally not a fan of needing to experience something before you write it; I believe in the power of the imagination and in empathy. So I'm always curious to see what people say about this interesting, and under-considered subject.

In an interview with the Japan Times, actress Julie Delpy reveals some of her attitudes toward romance. She is in Japan for the screening of her film "Two Days in Paris," which I saw last year and enjoyed enormously.
"Well, I think it's always one who's suffering," says Delpy, her brow creasing in a way that suggests this is a bit more than speculation. "I don't think it's both, because there's always one that loves more than the other. I've never seen a relationship where people love each other equally. And sometimes it fluctuates. Love is so difficult, always this back and forth. Sometimes you'll be madly in love with someone, and you ask 'is it real?' and they're like, 'naah, we're just friends,' and you'll be dying inside. I've had many experiences like this."

If this is true--that love is always an imbalance--then a writer can always try to find the dynamism in a relationship to bring it to life. I wonder if it is always the case, that one person will always love more than another. I'm trying to think of examples in fiction. I'm pretty sure that we stay interested in Scarlett and Rhett because he loves her more than she loves him . . . until it's too late. Jane spends an awful lot of time in love with Rochester, whom she believes doesn't love her. The book ends when the emotions are resolved. Romeo and Juliet--pretty equal equation--both die. Cathy and Heathcliff are pretty well balanced, though that doesn't end so well either. I'll keep thinking.

On a side note, I like how Julie ends her interview.
"I know so many guys who end up bored with life, and now they call me back all like 'why didn't I stay with you?' And I'll say 'it's good you didn't stay with me because you're a f**king bore!' (Laughs.) I tell them to go f**k themselves, because these men are idiots and they deserve to be miserable with their f**king manicurists."

Life is so not fair sometimes.

romeo and juliet... well, i'll leave that one alone.

Charlotte Bronte was madly in unrequited(ish) love with her Belgian tutor (who was married). She wrote Jane Eyre and all its sexy, torrid, sadistic fits over the course of what looks like a very emotionally charged (albeit quiet and parish-bound) life. And then she married the exact opposite of Rochester before dying at 39.

Vulpes Libres did this very interesting piece on Rochester and what a monster he is.

Emily Bronte is even more interesting. Cathy and Heathcliffe are such a famous archetypal couple (I first read WUTHERING HEIGHTS in my eleventh grade English class when we were discussing intersections of the "love" archetype and the "hero and monster" archetype). Emily herself was never involved (that we know of) with anyone, and modern scholars like to suggest she was (or would have been) a lesbian. I have to subscribe to a postmodern philosophy that ascribing a twentieth century "sexuality" to Emily Bronte is a little pointless, but I do think it's fascinating to think about how she envisioned so vividly both sides of the love affair.

Alas, I've written an essay in your comments section. Perhaps I should just post a link on my blog.
Ah, another Bronte fan. I felt horrible for Charlotte, learning about her love for Professor Heger. And I think history hasn't completely been fair to her; I mean, his wife did save all those letters, didn't she? She stitched them all together, even. What was that all about? How very Ellen Ash of her.

And then, of course, there was Charlotte's affair with George Smith, which was even more heartbreaking and upsetting. I mean, they took that trip to Edinburgh and everything!

As for Emily--she did watch brother Branwell have that disastrous affair with that widow . . . whatever her name was. I always figured Emily was smart enough to avoid romantic entanglements for herself, and just observe and observe . . . but of course, until recently, we thought this of Jane Austen too, so who knows.

Thank you for the essay.
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