It is difficult even to suppose how many books are written about love nowadays. This topic has always been one of the most actual ones, and nearly every writer and poet tried to share his personal vision of it. There is an opinion that people like reading books about love as they lack romanticism, tender, and true passion in their life and relationships. Moreover, some people face serious difficulties and Â feel rather puzzled in their personal relationships and hope that the experience and knowledge other people share in their books can help understand some aspects better and consequently solve all the problems.
Frankly speaking, I was also expecting some sort of story about love and its detailed description. However, I was really pleasantly surprised with this book as its narration style and content are rather original, though there are some moments I disagree with and consider to be primitive. The first thing I was really pleased with was the fact that the book comprised a set of separate essays that are interlinked, though rather loosely in my opinion. Every essay discusses the topic of love from various aspects, and thus, the whole impression of the book is very positive and bright. I have heard about Diane Ackerman and know that she is not only a talented poet and writer, but she is a very experienced scholar, and her works often prove to be absolutely trustworthy and stimulating as well. That is why I have always been interested in the way she writes and her highly praised books. It is difficult to say whether this knowledge helped me to evaluate this book objectively and without prejudice as my expectations were very high.
The book â€œA Natural History of Loveâ€ explores the nature of love and all the changes it experienced throughout a very large period from ancient times till nowadays. The first sections seem to be the most exciting and of a particular interest for me as they serve as a vividly described intellectual history of love and cover a large period of history. Diane Ackerman makes a description and comparison not only between different eras, but also between diverse cultures. Thus, her book is interesting from the etymological viewpoint.
The book â€œA Natural History of Loveâ€ by Diane Ackerman is also unique in my opinion as it tries to shorten the large gap between the different times and different perceptions of love within history. The book discusses the nature and notion of love in such different historical periods as for instance ancient Egypt, Rome, and modern times. In such a way, the writer tries to show how priorities and perception of love have changed within this time frame and what people tend to embrace and neglect most of all. Although, I think that all the stories and examples related with such distinguished individuals and characters as, for instance, Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, and others are not very original, and much is already written about them, still it is great that this book covers all of them. The characters of Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet are extremely popular, and many writers have already discussed them in their works, and thus, Diane Ackerman’s partial usage of the same material seems to be poorly viewed. However, the title of the book â€œA Natural History of Loveâ€ proves the necessity to discuss all the historical periods and consequently all the significant characters. Moreover, I think that some parts and description of the historical periods and ancient myths resemble simply retelling of the well-known to all stories, and they seem to be rather well-worn and of no original viewpoint. Much is also written about Tristan and Isolde and other famous characters, and, in case Diane Ackerman decided to include such examples in her book, I think it would be better to apply some other approach and make the narration more original and fresh.
I think that this book is a great finding for every reader, who has little notion of this topics and wants to have a generalized and detailed viewpoint of the natural history of love in literature within different time frames. I am also inclined to believe that this book can be interesting both for the general reader and even for some scholars as it also contains rather complicated discussions and analyses of Stendahl, Freud, and some others famous personalities. Frankly speaking, I did not like these discussions as I think some of them were too detailed and the main idea was lost. I think that if the author wanted to cover so many viewpoints and historical examples, it would be much better to focus on the main idea and pay less attention to the scientific details of each aspect.
Furthermore, Ackerman’s vision of the erotic of love is really exciting and original; however, too many words are said about its comparison to horses and cars â€“ more than 20 pages. I think that it would be better to focus more on the description of the evolutionary aspects of love and reduce the description of the horses and their nature as compared to every human being. I also think that Diane Ackerman devoted too much attention to the description of things that are not related with the notion of love and its history, such as, for instance, the discussion of Freud’s interest in Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiquities, and his collection. Some other examples include Ackerman’s recollection of a terrible shipwreck in the South Seas and some other stories that also have little to do with the notion of love and its natural history. These aspects spoilt my general impression of the book.
As a conclusion, I can say that the book â€œA Natural History of Loveâ€ by Diane Ackerman met all the expectations, and I like it a lot. My overall impression of the book is quite positive as I fancied the dense style of narration and the way all the essays are organized and beautifully flowed. Besides, this book helps to shed more light onto each historical period and highlight the most important aspects, though some essays are overloaded with unnecessary details and long descriptions. Diane Ackerman also focuses her attention on the physiological aspect of love and its representation in myths and creative non-fiction throughout different times; and this is certainly exciting. It was really interesting and informative to compare different historical periods and observe the changes the nature of love experienced within this time frame. Diane Ackerman certainly has a very vivid imagination, and her style of narration is unique and fascinating. This book made me think of the true nature of love and the way it is quite differently perceived in modern society. Moreover, the analysis of different historical periods proved that the notion of love may be differently perceived, but it has always been an inevitable part of our life. I liked that â€œA Natural History of Loveâ€ is not a boring and well-worn discussion of the nature of love, and the way Ackerman structured all the material and ideas is also pleasing. This book turned out to be a real finding for me, and I would like to read some of her other famous works and learn more about her perception of other notions and topics.