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Authors: Diane Ackerman

A Natural History of Love

BOOK: A Natural History of Love
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Diane Ackerman’s
A NATURAL HISTORY OF LOVE

“By turns playful, serious, poetic and scientific, Ackerman has drawn upon a vast variety of sources to create a compelling compendium of that great intangible, love.”

Los Angeles Daily News
“In a glorious tumult, Ackerman looks at the siren call of mermaids, the Indy 500, and the ecstasies of a levitating seventeenth-century saint. And her exploration of young girls’ love for horses takes her to Lascaux, where she wonderfully and wonderingly describes the ‘floodtide of horses’ crashing down through our dreams.”

The New Yorker
“An atlas through the mysterious ways of the human heart…. Ackerman tackles her subjects with a Sherlock Holmes-ian zeal, employing equal parts philosophy, mythology, history, science, even erotica, to shed light on this most noble of human emotions.”

USA Today
“Studded with accurate, witty versions of all the facts that made biology class interesting…. A
Natural History
is a wide-angle vision of love—informing, reminding, entertaining.”

Harper’s Bazaar
“Ackerman is an alchemist who transmutes leaden data into literary gold. Her book is a voluptuous valentine to a most exalted emotion, a lusty ballad to erotic pleasures, and an ode to romantic attachment.”

Hartford Courant
“Ackerman’s language is so rich as to be practically carnal…. What throbbing stuff she has gleaned from history’s sheets.”

Columbus Dispatch

BOOKS BY
Diane Ackerman

A Natural History of Love

The Moon by Whalelight

Jaguar of Sweet Laughter: New and Selected Poems

A Natural History of the Senses

Reverse Thunder

On Extended Wings

Lady Faustus

Twilight of the Tenderfoot

Wife of Light

The Planets: A Cosmic Pastoral

Diane Ackerman
A NATURAL HISTORY OF LOVE

Diane Ackerman was born in Waukegan, Illinois. She received her B.A. from Pennsylvania State University and an M.F.A. and Ph.D. from Cornell University. Her poetry has been published in many leading literary journals, and in the books
The Planets: A Cosmic Pastoral
(1976),
Wife of Light
(1978),
Lady Faustus
(1983),
Reverse Thunder: A Dramatic Poem
(1988), and
Jaguar of Sweet Laughter: New and Selected Poems
(1991).
Her works of nonfiction include, most recently,
A Natural History of Love
(1994);
The Moon by Whalelight and Other Adventures Among Bats, Crocodilians, Penguins, and Whales
(1991);
A Natural History of the Senses
(1990); and
On Extended Wings
(1985), a memoir of flying. She is at work on a second book of nature writings,
The Rarest of the Rare
.
Ms. Ackerman has received the Academy of American Poets’ Lavan Award, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation, among other recognitions. She has taught at several universities, including Columbia and Cornell, and she is currently a staff writer for
The New Yorker
.

For George,
whose heart is bright as summer

PERMISSIONS

Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following for permission to reprint previously published material:

Branden Publishing Co.:
Excerpts from
The Symposium
by Plato, translated by B. Jowett. Reprinted by permission of Branden Publishing, Boston.

Doubleday, a division of Bantam, Doubleday, Dell Publishing Group, Inc.:
Excerpt from entry about Ludwig van Beethoven from
Encyclopedia of Great Composers
by Milton Cross. Reprinted by permission of Doubleday.

Harcourt Brace and Company and Peter Owen Ltd., Publishers:
Excerpt from
The Diary of Anaïs Nin 1931-1934
by Anais Nin. Copyright © 1966 by Anaïs Nin. Rights throughout the world excluding the United States, Canada, and Israel are controlled by Peter Owen Ltd., Publishers, London. Reprinted by permission of Harcourt Brace and Company and Peter Owen Ltd., Publishers.

Indiana University Press:
Excerpt from
The Art of Love
by Ovid, translated by R. Humphries. Reprinted by permission of Indiana University Press.

Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. and Faber and Faber Ltd.:
Three lines from “Connoisseur of Chaos” from
Collected Poems
by Wallace Stevens. Copyright © 1942 by Wallace Stevens. Copyright renewed 1970 by Holly Stevens. Rights throughout the British Commonwealth are controlled by Faber and Faber Ltd. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., and Faber and Faber Ltd.

Jon Landau Management:
Four lines from “Fire” by Bruce Springsteen. Copyright © Bruce Springsteen: ASCAP. Reprinted by permission.

William Morrow & Company, Inc. and Lescher & Lescher, Ltd.:
Excerpts from
French Lovers: From Heloise and Abelard to Beauvoir and Sartre
by Joseph Barry. Copyright © 1987 by Joseph Barry. Rights throughout the British Commonwealth are controlled by Lescher & Lescher, Ltd. Reprinted by permission.

New Directions Publishing Corporation:
Excerpt from poem on pages 14–15 of
Love Poems of Ancient Egypt
by Ezra Pound and Noel Stock. Copyright © 1962 by Noel Stock. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

New Directions Publishing Corporation and David Higham Associates:
Two lines from “When All My Fine and Country Senses See” and eleven lines from “If I Were Tickled by the Rub of Love” from
Poems of Dylan Thomas
by Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1939 by New Directions Publishing Corporation. First published in
Poetry
. Rights throughout the world excluding the United States are controlled by David Higham Associates. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation and David Higham Associates.

Penguin Books Ltd:
Excerpt from the Introduction to
Romeo and Juliet
by William Shakespeare, edited by T.J.B. Spencer (Penguin Books, 1967). Introduction copyright © 1967 by T.J.B. Spencer. Reprinted by permission.

Random House, Inc.:
Excerpts from
Remembrance of Things Past, Volume Two
by Marcel Proust, translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin. Translation © 1981 by Random House, Inc. and Chatto and Windus. Published in the United States Kingdom by Chatto and Windus. Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc.

Routledge:
Excerpts from
Women in Athenian Law & Life
by Roger Just, published by Routledge. Reprinted by permission.

Scarborough House and MBA Literary Agents Limited:
Excerpts from
Sex in History
by Reay Tannahill. Copyright © 1980 by Reay Tannahill. Originally published by Stein & Day. Rights in the British Commonwealth are controlled by MBA Literary Agents Limited, London. Reprinted by permission of Scarborough House Publishers and MBA Literary Agents Limited.

Sterling Lord Literistic and The Hogarth Press:
Excerpt from
The Aeneid
by Virgil, translated by Cecil Day-Lewis. Copyright © 1932 by Cecil Day-Lewis. Published in the United States by Oxford University Press. Rights throughout the world excluding the United States are controlled by The Hogarth Press, London. Reprinted by permission of Sterling Lord Literistic and The Hogarth Press.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Some sections of this book (in different versions) first appeared in
Parade, The Condé Nast Traveler, Travel-Holiday, The New York Times Magazine, Allure, The New York Times Book Review
, and
American Photo
. I’m grateful to the editors of those periodicals for their hospitality and encouragement.

Special thanks to the following friends and colleagues who have been generous with their time, expertise, and encouragement: Ann Druyan, Chris Furst, Lindy Hazan, Jane Marie Law, Linda Mack, Jeanne Mackin, Nancy Skipper, Meredith Small, Deva Sobel, and Paul West.

CONTENTS

Cover

Other Books by this Author

About the Author

Title Page

Dedication

Permissions

Acknowledgements

Introduction: Love’s Vocabulary

A LONG DESIRE: THE HISTORY OF LOVE

Egypt

History’s Paramour, the Serpent Queen
Art in Ancient Egypt
The Hieroglyphic Love Poems
My Sister, My Bride
A Long Desire

Greece

The World of the Citizen King
The Woman’s World
Men Loving Men
The Family
Orpheus and Eurydice

Rome

The Nightmare of Girls
Dido and Aeneas
The Family
Oh, Victoria!
Ovid and the Art of Love
Decorating Leisure Time

The Middle Ages

The Birth of Chivalry
Books of Love
Troubadours
The Heart’s Rebellion
The Origins of Courtly Love
Abelard and Heloise

Modern Days

The Angel and the Witch
Romeo and Juliet
Bridled Hearts
A Waking Swoon
A Return to Courtly Love
Domestic Paradise
Modern Love

THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER: IDEAS ABOUT LOVE

Plato: The Perfect Union

Stendhal Meets the Deep South

Denis de Rougemont: Love and Magic

Marcel Proust and the Erotics of Waiting

Freud: The Origins of Desire

Attachment Theory

ALL FIRES THE FIRE: THE NATURE OF LOVE

The Loving Impaired

Disabling Love
The Horror of the Ik

Brain-Stem Sonata: The Neurophysiology of Love

The Evolution of Love

The Plastic Brain
New-Age Sensitive Guys
Adultery
The Battle of the Sexes

The Chemistry of Love

Mother Love, Father Love
The Cuddle Chemical
The Infatuation Chemical
The Attachment Chemical
The Chemistry of Divorce

Aphrodisiacs

A NECESSARY PASSION: THE EROTICS OF LOVE

Fire from the Flesh: Why Sex Evolved

The Spice of Life

The Face

The Evolution of the Face
Survival of the Cutest
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