The Art of Loving

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The Art of Loving is a slim volume of only a little over a hundred pages yet it packs one hell of a punch. Written some fifty years ago, here is a more damning indictment of modern society than anything the existential crowd of Bertrand Russell, Albert Camus or Jean Paul Sartre could cook up. The Art of Loving is a very concise and pithy read, it is written in the terse lucid style of gospel, each word in each line serving a critical function. This is not a writer's style nor is a critic's but that of a scientist, impartial and wholly objective – some may think of it as cold. But it is also easy to see that it is written by a man who is completely at ease with his ideas, who has followed them to their natural conclusion – that Love is a dead flower; and only one in a million may ever resurrect it in his or her life.

Something as audacious a title as The Art of Loving could only have been pulled off by a man of the calibre of Bertrand Russell, and as a social philosopher, reformer and rebel Erich Fromm is no less great a name. As a psychoanalyst, he diverged from the typical Freudian obsession with unconscious drives and insisted on the importance of economic and social factors for mental well-being. His works are noted for their emphasis on a "sane society", one which is based on rational human needs and where individuality is not compromised in the name of economics or authority. Erich Fromm is one of the pivotal figures in the Humanist movement that reared its head for a short flicker after World War II. His highly influential works (including Man for Himself, Escape from Freedom, The Sane Society, etc.) paint the pathetic picture of dazed consumer and encourage a renaissance of new, enlightened values to salvage our humanity.

And it's more than just talk – in The Art of Loving, Fromm quotes effortlessly from Marx, Huxley, Rumi and several religious texts to hammer in his points. Is Love really an art? Undoubtedly, he answers, in as much as Life itself is...
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