No topic in literature is more thoroughly explored than love. We have puppy love, sexual love, romantic love, parental love, the list seems endless. The first novel Don Quijote by Miguel Cervantes explored the nature of chivalry and the delusional love Don Quijote imagined he had for Dulcinea. In some way it seems appropriate that the very first major literary work about love explored the delusional nature of romantic love.
In the English language there is only one word for love but in other languages there are sometimes as many as twenty different words to describe different types of love. In Spanish there is a clear demarcation between carnal love—te quiero—and platonic love—te amo. Of course the two can overlap.
In today’s world love is misunderstood more than ever. We have shows on television such as The Matchmaker and The Bachelor which propose to help people fall in love and form permanent relationships. In many indigenous civilizations the idea of romantic love did not exist at all. Marriages were primarily arranged for the economic benefit of the tribe or the family and in many cases cross cousin marriage was almost obligatory to ensure long term alliances among families. (more…)