The Paradox of Love

By Pascal Bruckner; Steven Rendall | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
Liberating the Human Heart

I have loved women to the point of madness. But I
have always preferred my liberty.

GIACOMO CASANOVA*

God, how I loved my freedom before I began to
love you more than I loved it. How it weighs on me
today!

GUY DE MAUPASSANT, Fort comme la mort

In 1860, when as an opponent of Napoleon III he was living in exile on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel, Victor Hugo associated freedom of thought with freedom in love in a new way: “One corresponds to the heart, the other to the mind: they are the two sides of freedom of conscience. No one has the right to ask which God I believe in or which woman I love, and the law less than anyone.”1 Further on in the same text, he protested against bourgeois marriage: “You love a man other than your husband? Well then, go to him. If you do not love a man, you are his whore; if you love a man, you are his wife. In sexual union, the

* Translator’s note: Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own.

-9-

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