A Natural History of Love

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Vintage Books, 1994 - Family & Relationships - 358 pages
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Following the triumphant success of her book "A Natural History of the Senses," Diane Ackerman has turned her formidable gifts to that greatest gift of all -- the elusive, eternal, and endlessly interesting matter of love. The result is pure Ackerman: a splendid, serious, scientific, poetic, playful, and lyrical 'tour d'horizon' of love's many forms and faces. Ackerman draws on a variety of sources, both classical and from her immediate experience. She gives a fresh new reading to Freud ('mapping the war zones of the heart'), Stendhal (love as fantasy), and Proust ('the erotics of waiting'), and draws lessons from lovers across time.

Her attention then moves to the physical -- the chemistry, biology, and neurophysiology associated with love in the brain, mind, and body. She discusses the 'evolution of the face, ' the cuddle, both as caress and as chemical, and the customs of marriage. There are astonishments everywhere. Her distinctive touch, aided by her personal adventures and explorations, enriches our understanding of women and horses, men and mermaids, sex and flying, and other equally enticing subjects.

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A natural history of love

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In her long-anticipated companion volume to A Natural History of the Senses (LJ 5/1/ 90), Ackerman mines deep within the caves of human emotion for artifacts of "the great intangible'': love ... Read full review



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About the author (1994)

Diane Ackerman was born on October 7, 1948 in Waukegan, Illinois. She received a B.A. in English from Pennsylvania State University and her M.A., M.F.A., and Ph.D. in English from Cornell University. Poet, author, educator, adventurer, and naturalist, she tries to bridge science and art in her writing, exploring questions of who we are, where we come from, and how we fit into the fabric of the world. She has written many books of poetry including The Planets: A Cosmic Pastoral; Wife of Light; Jaguar of Sweet Laughter: New and Selected Poems; Origami Bridges: Poems of Psychoanalysis and Fire; and I Praise My Destroyer. Her nonfiction works include A Natural History of the Senses; A Natural History of Love; The Moon by Whale Light: And Other Adventures Among Bats, Crocodilians, Penguins, and Whales; An Alchemy of Mind; and On Extended Wings. She also writes nature books for children including Animal Sense; Monk Seal Hideaway; and Bats: Shadows in the Night. She is coeditor of a Norton anthology, The Book of Love. Her essays about nature and human nature have appeared in Parade, National Geographic, The New York Times, and The New Yorker magazines. She hosted a five-hour PBS television series inspired by A Natural History of the Senses. She received the Orion Book Award for The Zookeepers Wife. Her other awards include the Abbie Copps Poetry Prize, Black Warrior Poetry Prize, Pushcart Prize, Peter I. B. Lavan award, and the Wordsmith award. She has taught at a variety of universities, including Columbia and Cornell.

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