“If I have been proud of you and your work and put you on a pedestal, as you say, please let me keep you there, for you deserve it surely and that is my way of loving.”
The stirring love letters of pioneering photographer and LGBT icon Frances Benjamin Johnston
“The thought of you now makes me a little unbearably happy.”
Legendary anthropologist Margaret Mead’s exquisite love letters to her soulmate, Ruth Benedict:
"I feel in my inmost heart your admirable qualities & feelings & all I would hope is that you might direct them upwards."
Emma Darwin’s beautiful love letter to Charles, 30 years and ten children into their marriage.
For a wholehearted smile, E. B. White’s love letter to his young wife on the occasion of her pregnancy, “written” by their dog Daisy
"I want to see you. It is really absurd. I can’t live without you. You are so dear, so wonderful. I think of you all day long, and miss your grace, your boyish beauty, the bright sword-play of your wit, the delicate fancy of your genius, so surprising always in its sudden swallow-flights towards north and south, towards sun and moon — and, above all, yourself."
Oscar Wilde’s stirring love letters to Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas
"An honorable human relationship — that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love” — is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.
It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.
It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.
It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.”
“I do not accept subtractive models of love, only additive ones.”
Fantastic read on “horizontal” vs. “vertical” identity and how the power of love both changes us and makes us more ourselves
“Thought is a kind of opium; it can intoxicate us, while still broad awake; it can make transparent the mountains and everything that exists. It is by love only that one keeps hold upon reality, that one recovers one’s proper self, that one becomes again will, force, and individuality. “
Swiss philosopher Henri-Frédéric Amiel’s timeless wisdom on love, culled from his lengthy journals:
“The art of seeing has to be learned.”
Beautiful illustrated quotes from the iconic novel:
“What a small word we use for an idea so immense and powerful it has altered the flow of history, calmed monsters, kindled works of art, cheered the forlorn, turned tough guys to mush, consoled the enslaved, driven strong women mad, glorified the humble, fueled national scandals, bankrupted robber barons, and made mincemeat of kings. How can love’s spaciousness be conveyed in the narrow confines of one syllable? If we search for the source of the word, we find a history vague and confusing, stretching back to the Sanskrit lubhyati (“he desires”). I’m sure the etymology rambles back much farther than that, to a one-syllable word heavy as a heartbeat. Love is an ancient delirium, a desire older than civilization, with taproots stretching deep into dark and mysterious days.”
A natural history of love:
“It was Gertrude Stein who held my complete attention, as she did for all the many years I knew her. I knew her until her death, and all these empty ones since then. She was a golden brown presence, burned by the Tuscan sun and with a golden glint in her warm brown hair. She was dressed in a warm brown corduroy suit. She wore a large round coral brooch and when she talked, very little, or laughed, a good deal, I thought her voice came from this brooch. It was unlike anyone else’s voice — deep, full, velvety, like a great contralto’s, like two voices.”
How Alice B. Toklas met Gertrude Stein and one of literary history’s greatest loves began:
How an 18th-century bachelor enlisted Rousseau’s teachings in Frankensteining his better-ever half.
“Mouse dung, applied as a liniment, was a favorite anti-aphrodisiac. So was rue boiled with rose oil and aloes. Drinking wine in which a mullet fish had drowned and sipping male urine in which a lizard had expired both had their loyal adherents.”
Fascinating excerpt on ancient aphrodisiacs and anti-aphrodisiacs
“Only one mountain can know the core of another mountain.”
Frida Kahlo’s passionate handwritten love letters to Diego Rivera:
How attractive are you to the opposite sex? An amusingly appalling questionnaire circa 1949 at the link: