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Love in Literature

Few human emotions are as strong as love. The desire to connect with another human being is a basic drive. Therefore, the theme of love in literature is perhaps as old as literature itself. Both poets and novelists have attempted to capture love, mercurial and difficult. Love can be grand or tragic, but it is always compelling.

Love lies at the heart of Homer’s Iliad. It is Paris’ love for Helen and her leaving her husband that sparks the lengthy war. Odysseus’ love for his wife and home drives the action of the Odyssey. The ancient Greek poet Sappho wrote numerous verses about love. Iranian poet Nizami’s Layla and Majnun is not only an ancient tale of love but also the inspiration for one of the greatest rock songs of all time.

The Middle Ages in particular seem to have been obsessed with the theme of love in literature. Tales of chivalry and courtly love dominate the stories of King Arthur, especially the love between Lancelot and Guinevere. The love letters of Eloise and Abelard remain compelling literature to this day.

No discussion of love in literature would be complete without mention of one of the greatest love stories of all time, the tragedy of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Two warring families finally find peace only after the tragic deaths of the star-crossed lovers. Love in literature, it seems, will be a theme as long as people continue to fall in love.

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