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The Language of Love in World Literature

International Languages Department, Central Library,
Display case by the Circulation Desk
Display case by the Circulation Desk

What is love? Smiling to a stranger? Thinking of a special someone? Visiting the library? “There are as many kinds of love, as there are hearts,” says Tolstoy in Anna Karenina. “Love, that moves the sun and the other stars,” are the concluding words of Dante’s Divine Comedy

The world literature is a symphony of loving and liking of one kind or another. Picture Winnie-the-Pooh climbing up the tree – for honey, of course. He is nearly there… but aah! A branch breaks and he starts falling. “ ‘It all comes, I suppose,’ he decided, as he said good-bye to the last branch, spun round three times, and flew gracefully into the gorse-bush, ‘it all comes of liking honey so much.’ ” 

Or let us picture young Romeo observing the fierce swordfight between Capulets and Montagues. “Here’s much to do with hate, but more with love,” muses Shakespeare through his enamored character. Is there anything in human experience that in one way or another is not influenced by what we love or like? “We may be cocoons enveloped in love,” says an ancient manuscript. It may have different names at different times and places, and yet it is a language, which perhaps we all are capable of hearing, reflecting upon, and speaking.