We travel the shelves of five countries to bring you this February 14 a selection of unforgettable classics of romantic literature from various eras .
LatinAmerican Post | Daniel Vargas
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The designated date of Valentine's Day is approaching and with it the questions that many ask themselves every year: Is it really necessary to dedicate a day to celebrate love? Shouldn't it be held every day?
The question acquires more depth when seeing that love in our days is increasingly considered a mass consumer product, a wearable, and not the infinite force capable of transcending death and of uniting atoms into molecules and molecules into capable beings to lavish it.
Fortunately, there are literary works in which the sweetness of love is preserved like honey in a glass jar. Let's see some of them:
The Sorrows of Young Werther
If there is a deity that stands out in the pantheon of the classics of romantic literature, it is the Werther, one of the most intense love novels ever written by any pen.
In it its author, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, an exalted figure of Germanic letters, tells how the young and handsome Werther, who is not lacking in love opportunities, has eyes only for Carlota, a beautiful young woman already engaged who awaits the return of her boyfriend to get married . Despite this, the protagonist does not give up the hope of seeing his wishes come true and regularly visits his beloved during the absence of her future husband. However, when he returns, Werther discovers that his chances are nil.
This work, published in 1774 and written in an epistolary key, was a success: in just a few months three editions were printed, having Napoleon Bonaparte himself among its ranks of readers.
In addition, it is known for having been the epicenter of an epidemic of young suicides who, motivated or inspired by the misfortunes of its protagonist, decided to take their own lives in the name of love. The unfortunate phenomenon reached such a magnitude that in 1775 the Leipzig authorities prohibited its publication on the grounds that it incited suicide. So read with caution.
Gone with the wind
Written by journalist Margaret Mitchell and published in 1936, this mythical piece of romantic literature took less than a year to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It's little more than a thousand pages tell the story of Scarlett O'Hara, a young aristocrat from the southern United States condemned to see how her cousin, Melanie Hamilton, marries the man she is in love with, Ashley Wilkes, heir to the Twelve Oaks plantation.
Although it is a romantic novel, the text is also ascribed to the historical genre, since the plot begins in 1861, just in the month that the Civil War broke out. In fact, Time magazine considers Gone with the Wind as "the definitive account of one of the basic American mythologies: the passing, in blood and ashes, of the great and ancient South."
The novel soon made the leap to the big screen, reaching not only winning 10 Oscars and grossing 24 million dollars, but also becoming an emblem of the history of the seventh art and, more specifically, of the golden age of Hollywood.
Also read: What's Next for The Big Fans of Reading
Love in the time of cholera
In the times of dating apps and the insubstantial and ephemeral love of liquid modernity, it might be a good idea to return on Valentine's Day to the pages of this classic of Hispanic letters published in 1985. Few works of our literature these days represent love in such an archetypal way as that which Gabo was able to sculpt in this book. In a 1996 interview for the newspaper El País Márquez, revealed that it was his best book, a book he wrote "from my entrails."
Five decades were not enough for Florentino Ariza to stop loving Fermina Daza, who despite professing the same sentiment for Ariza, decided to marry a doctor of high rank. When he dies, more than 50 years later, Florentino appears at his funeral.
The work constitutes a sepia portrait of the Caribbean heteropatriarchy of the early 20th century. In one of her academic works, Professor Malena Andrade Molinares analyzes the cultural ties and patriarchal values to which Fermina Daza is subjected and warns in the work "an incipient feminism against the patriarchal rule of the early 20th century."
The Japanese lover
In the book trailer for the novel, Allende herself explains that all the action takes place in a “very hippy” nursing home where artists and intellectuals, many of them widowers and widows, end up. In it, Alma Velasco, an 81-year-old woman, leads a second life so mysterious and secret that it ends up intriguing Irina, who begins to spy on her and reveal to the reader the love story that is hidden in the soul of the spy.
With the Second World War as its framework, The Japanese Lover deals with eternal love and eternity as love, demonstrating in an almost scientific way that it is this substance that sustains everything that exists. "I had a lot of fun writing this story because my parents are old and this age and the weight of memory is very important to me now," Allende confessed. The same year of its publication, the Uruguayan Book Chamber awarded this work the Golden Book Award.
More recent but no less classic is the first novel by the Japanese writer Banana Yoshimoto, published in 1988 and winner of the Kaien Newcomer Writers Prize of 1987 and the Izumi Kyoka Literary Prize of 1988. The plot is woven by three characters with psychologies that a priori they can be considered damaged but they end up showing that strength hides in weakness.
Mikage Sakurai is a young passionate about cooking. After the painful death of his grandmother, he takes refuge in his favorite place in the house: the kitchen. However, shortly after, one of her friends, Yuichi, knocks on the door to invite her to live in his house with her father, a transgender woman. After six months of living with her new family during which the affection towards Yuichi and Eriko is consolidated, Mikage finds work as an assistant to a cooking teacher and decides to move. Shortly after Eriko dies a victim of transphobia and Mikage tries to console Yuichi, with whom she ends up falling in love.
The success of this novel can be measured by the rapid filming of a film of the same name released just a year after its publication.