Friday, January 18, 2013

Marilyn Yalom

Marilyn Yalom was educated at Wellesley College, the Sorbonne, Harvard and Johns Hopkins. She has been a professor of French and comparative literature, director of an institute for research on women, a popular speaker on the lecture circuit, and the author of numerous books and articles on literature and women's history. In 1991 she was decorated as an Officier des Palmes Académiques by the French Government.

Yalom's books include Maternity, Mortality, and the Literature of Madness, Blood Sisters: The French Revolution in Women's Memory, A History of the Breast, A History of the Wife, Birth of the Chess Queen, The American Resting Place, and How the French Invented Love: 900 Years of Passion and Romance (2012).

From her Q & A at Interview Magazine:

ROYAL YOUNG: I want to talk about your life in America in the 1950s and what a colorful, alluring contrast French culture must have been.

MARILYN YALOM: Yes, indeed. I was at Wellesley College when I first went to France in 1952 or '53. That was a change from Wellesley, where we still had limited dating, had to be in by midnight in a very much retain-your-virginity community. Then off I went to Paris, where there was a latent sensuality, people embracing in gardens and sitting on the side of the Seine. And of course, the very shocking ideas of Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre advocating what they called a primary relationship outside of marriage while having contingent relations. That is, you were free in your love and sexual relationships. Freedom was the password. [laughs]

YOUNG: [laughs] The French do love their freedom.

YALOM: They do. Liberté, egalité, fraternité!

YOUNG: There's a lot of hope in love.

YALOM: There is, and you also see the intensity of love in the French experience. More than anything, there is a belief that love has its own justification, that it should be experienced as passionately as possible. The French have a wonderful expression, amour passion, which is the ultimate. If you've lived in France long enough, one day someone will tell you about their amour passion, the passionate love of their live, or they will ask you if you've ever had an amour passion.

YOUNG: What happens if you say you haven't?

YALOM: Well, then they...[read on]
Visit Marilyn Yalom's website.

How the French Invented Love is one of Publishers Weekly's top nonfiction books of 2012.

Writers Read: Marilyn Yalom.

--Marshal Zeringue