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Love Letters of Great Men

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Remember the wonderfully romantic book of love letters that Carrie reads aloud to Big in the recent blockbuster film, Sex and the City? Fans raced to buy copies of their own, only to find out that the beautiful book didn't actually exist. However, since all of the letters referenced in the film did exist, we decided to publish this gorgeous keepsake ourselves. Love Letters Remember the wonderfully romantic book of love letters that Carrie reads aloud to Big in the recent blockbuster film, Sex and the City? Fans raced to buy copies of their own, only to find out that the beautiful book didn't actually exist. However, since all of the letters referenced in the film did exist, we decided to publish this gorgeous keepsake ourselves. Love Letters of Great Men follows hot on the heels of the film and collects together some of history's most romantic letters from the private papers of Beethoven, Mark Twain, Mozart, and Lord Byron. For some of these great men, love is a delicious poison (William Congreve); for others, a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire, & books & music (Charles Darwin). Love can scorch like the heat of the sun (Henry VIII), or penetrate the depths of one's heart like a cooling rain (Flaubert). Every shade of love is here, from the exquisite eloquence of Oscar Wilde and the simple devotion of Robert Browning, to the wonderfully modern misery of the Roman Pliny the Younger, losing himself in work to forget how much he misses his beloved wife, Calpurnia. Taken together, these letters show that perhaps men haven't changed all that much over the last 2,000 years--passion, jealousy, hope and longing still rule their hearts and minds. In an age of e-mail and texted i luv us, this timeless and unique collection reminds us that nothing can compare to the simple joy of sitting down to read a letter from the one you love.


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Remember the wonderfully romantic book of love letters that Carrie reads aloud to Big in the recent blockbuster film, Sex and the City? Fans raced to buy copies of their own, only to find out that the beautiful book didn't actually exist. However, since all of the letters referenced in the film did exist, we decided to publish this gorgeous keepsake ourselves. Love Letters Remember the wonderfully romantic book of love letters that Carrie reads aloud to Big in the recent blockbuster film, Sex and the City? Fans raced to buy copies of their own, only to find out that the beautiful book didn't actually exist. However, since all of the letters referenced in the film did exist, we decided to publish this gorgeous keepsake ourselves. Love Letters of Great Men follows hot on the heels of the film and collects together some of history's most romantic letters from the private papers of Beethoven, Mark Twain, Mozart, and Lord Byron. For some of these great men, love is a delicious poison (William Congreve); for others, a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire, & books & music (Charles Darwin). Love can scorch like the heat of the sun (Henry VIII), or penetrate the depths of one's heart like a cooling rain (Flaubert). Every shade of love is here, from the exquisite eloquence of Oscar Wilde and the simple devotion of Robert Browning, to the wonderfully modern misery of the Roman Pliny the Younger, losing himself in work to forget how much he misses his beloved wife, Calpurnia. Taken together, these letters show that perhaps men haven't changed all that much over the last 2,000 years--passion, jealousy, hope and longing still rule their hearts and minds. In an age of e-mail and texted i luv us, this timeless and unique collection reminds us that nothing can compare to the simple joy of sitting down to read a letter from the one you love.

30 review for Love Letters of Great Men

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    So I'd like to start this review by stating that I do not like romance in fiction! I tolerate it as a sub-plot and it has been known to warm the coldness of my heart in exceptional cases, (here's looking at you, John Green) but as a main theme I find it comes across as too contrived and artificially formulated. This book, for that reason, was not placed highly on my reading list. Curiosity and good reviews won me over and I decided to give it a go. I was not disappointed. This book, full of decla So I'd like to start this review by stating that I do not like romance in fiction! I tolerate it as a sub-plot and it has been known to warm the coldness of my heart in exceptional cases, (here's looking at you, John Green) but as a main theme I find it comes across as too contrived and artificially formulated. This book, for that reason, was not placed highly on my reading list. Curiosity and good reviews won me over and I decided to give it a go. I was not disappointed. This book, full of declarations of love in the form of letter, as the title so obviously suggests, I found so utterly and achingly pure and beautiful that I wanted to continue turning the pages forever. Alas, it is a short book (at only 144 pages), but perhaps that is part of its charm? Perhaps I would never have decided to read it if confronted with a tome of romantic declarations? Perhaps it would have become so overpoweringly sweet as to overwhelm the simplistic and pure beauty of it? Who knows. As it stands, its size and its utter delightfulness managed to elicit the correct response of smiles and 'ahhs' and spread a warmth inside of me that leads to this sickly review being tapped out almost euphorically in its wake. This book is a collection of letters from (you guessed it) great men from throughout history to their love, or in some cases loves plural. Each letter is preceded by a short description of who the great man and the object/s of his affection were and a different side to these well-known names is revealed. The letters are a mixture of witty and petulant and illicit and mundane, which proves to lessen the fairytale image often conjured of ancient love and heightens the realness of it. It enhances the often overlooked fact that these men lived. It brings a kinship between the men of the past and those of the present despite, no, because of, their various forms of correspondence and how they chose to articulate the desires of their souls. Reading it made my own heart pine for men I have never known with words that were not penned for me. Their declarations are joyous, proud and earnest and are offset beautifully by moments of normalcy amongst their fiery proclamations. They are often lovely but sometimes infuriating to read - these men can be so petulant and demanding! This not only puts the letters into context, but it brings them into focus: it makes them less like testimonies of love and more like proof of life. It is proof that these men were not just two-dimensional history book 'characters'. It is proof that love was no greater or less fickle then, as it is now. It is proof that this book represents something real. I want to end this review with an extract from my favourite letter as it highlights all this book means for me. The letter is question is a charming correspondence from Danial Webster to Josephine Seaton, a lady who left her bonnet at his house: "I have demanded parlance with your Bonnet: have asked it how many tender looks it has noticed to be directed under it; what soft words it has heard, close to its side; in what instances an air of triumph has caused it to be tossed; and whether, ever, and when, it has quivered from trembling emotions, proceeding from below. But it has proved itself a faithful keeper of secrets." This has proven itself my favourite passage as, aside from its undoubted wit, excellent writing and genius creativity, it all derived from an ordinary moment lost among all the other ordinary moments throughout time. And it is these 'ordinary' moments that makes life and love and this book what it is - real.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ika Natassa

    And to quote Richard Steele (1707): “Methinks I could write a volume to you; but all the language on earth would fail in saying how much and with what disinterested passion I am ever yours.”

  3. 4 out of 5

    Yoana

    These letters and the short biographical notes reveal some interesting, sometimes amusing details about famous people's private lives, such as the fact that Mozart and his wife both loved scatological jokes; Robert Burns was a dog (he got two women pregnant while carrying on with his "main", I guess you'd say, mistress; one of the pregnant women was the mistress's maid); Napoleon Bonaparte seems to have been very insecure about his wife's love for him and tortured over it; Charles Darwin made a These letters and the short biographical notes reveal some interesting, sometimes amusing details about famous people's private lives, such as the fact that Mozart and his wife both loved scatological jokes; Robert Burns was a dog (he got two women pregnant while carrying on with his "main", I guess you'd say, mistress; one of the pregnant women was the mistress's maid); Napoleon Bonaparte seems to have been very insecure about his wife's love for him and tortured over it; Charles Darwin made a pro-/con list when he considered marriage, "better than a dog anyhow" was on the pro- side and "not forced to visit relatives" in the con side (he subsequently sounded very happy with his choice though, even though he married his first cousin); Robert Browning's love for Elizabeth Barrett started as a fan's admiration; Mark Twain's in-laws had been conductors on the Underground Railroad; Alfred Douglas did not abandon Oscar Wilde after his process, on the contrary, he campaigned in the press against the sentence and petitioned the Queen for clemency. The letters start with Pliny the Younger and then span the period between the 17th century and the 1910s. No matter the time period, you can recognise the ecstasy and the agony of love, as we've felt it in our own lives. I also recognised a number of games and tricks, including some pretty dishonest and downright abusive ones, that men seem to have been using for centuries: You're out of my league, but I'm a nice guy, give me a chance: Were I to consult my merits my humility would chide any shadow of hope; but after a sight of such a face whose whole composition is a smile of good nature, why should I be so unjust as to suspect you of cruelty. George Farquhar to Anne Oldfield, 1699 Negging: It is true that you are not handsome, for you are a woman and think you are not: but this good humour and tenderness for me has a charm that cannot be resisted. Alexander Pope to Martha Blount, 1714 Disregarding consent: I am vain enough to conclude that (like most young fellows) a fine lady's silence is consent and so I write on – Alexander Pope to Teresa Blount, 1716 my whole existence is devoted to her, even in spite of her. [...] My duty is to keep close to her steps, to surround her existence with mine, to serve her as a barrier against all dangers [...] Victor Hugo to Adele Foucher, 1820 Emotional manipulation, guilt-tripping: Do not put yourself out; run after pleasures; happiness is made for you. The entire world is too glad to be able to please you, and only your husband is very, very unhappy. Napoleon Bonaparte to Josephine, 1796 Resorting to insults when he doesn't get his way, sour grapes: Thou art horrid, very awkward, very stupid, a very Cinderella. Napoleon Bonaparte to Josephine, 1796 (8 months after their wedding) For a few years you may flutter in some frivolous circle. But the time will come when you will sigh for any heart that could be fond and despair of one that can be faithful. [...] then you will recall to your memory the passionate heart that you have forfeited, and the genius you have betrayed. Benjamin Disraeli to Mary Anne Wyndham Lewis, 1839 Jealousy and control: Dear little wife, I have a number of requests to make. I beg you [...] (3) not tog o out walking alone - and preferably not to go out walking at all, [...] (5) I beg in your conduct not only to be careful of your honour and mine, but also to consider appearances. Do not be angry with me for asking this. You ought to love me even more for thus valuing our honour. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to Constanze Mozart, 1789 How have you passed this month? Who have you smil'd with? [...] For myself I have been a Martyr the whole time [...] You may have altered - if you have not - if you still behave in dancing rooms and other societies as I have seen you - I do not want to live - if you have done so I wish this coming night may be my last. I cannot live without you, and not only you, but chaste you, virtuous you. John Keats to Fanny Brawne Threats: Josephine, beware, one fine night the doors will break open and I will be there. Napoleon Bonaparte to Josephine, 1796 There were also some truly touching, sweet, lovely intimate exchanges, such as Schiller's trembling hopefulness that his beloved may return his feelings and his selfless and genuinely respectful explanation as to why he hadn't dared reveal his heart sooner: Could I not become to you what you were to me, then my suffering would have distressed you, and I would have destroyed the most beautiful harmony of our friendship through my confession. Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller to Charlotte von Lengefeld, 1789 And Pierre Curie's charmingly awkward courtship of Maria Sklodovska: I thought of asking your permission to meet you by chance in Freibourg.Pierre Curie to Maria Sklodovska, 1894 Charles Darwin's astute observation of the disrespect many men habitually showed for their wives and his witty mockery of it: I want practice in ill-treatment of the female sex,–I did not observe Lyell had any compunction; I hope to harden my conscience in time: few husbands seem to find it difficult to effect this. Charles Darwin to Emma Wedgwood Lieutenant John Lindsay Rapoport, a soldier in WWI, in contrast to a lot of men in this volume, had full security in his beloved's feelings and faithfulness and no desire to control her. It's a lovely letter and all the more tragic for being the last thing he ever wrote - he was posted missing a month later and never found. One thing I am [as] sure of as that I exist: that is that I have all your heart and all your love. So I just want you to enjoy yourself - I love you so much. Have a topping time on the river and at shos, etc, with your friends, won't you? Lieutenant John Lindsay Rapoport to his fiancee Walter Bagehot's description of being in love is something I keenly recognise: a wild, delicious excitement which I would not have lost for the world. [...] everything has a gloss upon it. Walter Bagehot to Elizabeth Wilson, 1857 Robert Browning's letter to his future wife on the morning of their wedding (when she was 40 and he was 34) is worth quoting from: You will only expect a few words. What will those be? When the heart is full it may run over; but the real fulness stays within... Words can never tell you... how perfectly dear you are to me - perfectly dear to my heart and soul. I look back in every one point, every word and gesture, every letter, every silence - you have been entirely perfect to me - I would not change one word, one look. [...] I am all gratitude - and all pride... that my life has been so crowned by you. Robert Browning to Elizabeth Barrett, 1846 As well as Mark Twain's wonderfully affectionate words to his wife, eloquent with his apparently deep and lasting lover for her: Livy darling, Six years have gone by since I made my first great success in life and won you, and thirty years have passed since Providence made preparation for that happy success by sending you into the world. Every day we live together adds to my confidence, that we can never any more wish to be separated than that we can ever imagine a regret that we were ever joined. Mark Twain to Olivia Clemens, 1875 I do hope you are all well and having as jolly a time as we are, for I love you, sweetheart, and also, in a measure, the Bays [his small daughter's word for "babies"]. Mark Twain to Olivia Clemens, 1878 And finally, this lovely confession by Nathaniel Hawthorne to his wife rings so true and sums up love for me: I think I was always more at ease alone than in anybody's company, till I knew thee. Nathanial Hawthorne to Sophia Hawthorne

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    This is a collection of love letters but the history about the love affairs informing the letters, are even more interesting than the letters themselves. The men writing the letters, also not too shabby: from Nathaniel Hawthorne to John Keats and Ludwig Van Beethoven. Most of the stories accompanying the letters are heartbreaking--drastic life decisions made from fleeting love affairs. A few were inspirational, like the journalist, Richard Steele's, who wrote his wife more than four hundred lett This is a collection of love letters but the history about the love affairs informing the letters, are even more interesting than the letters themselves. The men writing the letters, also not too shabby: from Nathaniel Hawthorne to John Keats and Ludwig Van Beethoven. Most of the stories accompanying the letters are heartbreaking--drastic life decisions made from fleeting love affairs. A few were inspirational, like the journalist, Richard Steele's, who wrote his wife more than four hundred letters before and during their marriage. Though endearing, the letters are sometimes overtly sentimental and even slightly comical. Take these words, for example, from Napoleon Bonaparte to his wife, Josephine: I do not love thee any more; on the contrary, I detest thee. Thou art horrid, very awkward, very stupid, a very Cinderella. Thou dost not write me at all, thou dost not love thy husband; thou knowest the pleasure that thy letters afford him... What a letter tantrum from the great general and Emperor of France. As much as I loved reading about the poet, John Keats, and the reactionary critics he shared with William Hazlitt (oh the joys of literary criticism), I also loved reading Keats' letters to the great love of his life, Fanny Brawne: I believe you have liked me for my own sake and for nothing else. I have met with women whom I really think would like to be married to a Poem and to be given away by a Novel. William Hazlitt's letter was also a favorite, though I can't tell which one was more sad, the letter or the story behind the letter. Hazlitt, an admirable essayist, ("On The Pleasure of Hating" is one I've studied for its surprising mixture of ambiguity and clarity) fell in love with a twenty-three year old while he was still married. He wanted a divorce but remarriage after a divorce was only allowed in Scotland, so he went to Scotland. While waiting on the process, his young lover started a relationship with someone else and the devastated Hazlitt anonymously wrote a book about the experience but his critics ousted him as the author and it shattered his career. These are lines from the melancholic but heartfelt letter he wrote to his fleeting lover: When I think of the thousand endearing caresses that have passed between us, I do not wonder at the strong attachment that draws me to you, but I am sorry for my own want of power to please. I hear the wind sigh through the lattice and keep repeating over and over to myself two lines of Lord Byron's tragedy- So shalt thou find me ever at thy side Here and hereafter, if the last may be applying them to thee, my love, and thinking whether I shall ever see thee again. 2.5 stars

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum

    Love Letters of Great Men by Ursula Doyle is a collection that includes personal and private letters from some great names in history and literature, including: - King Henry VIII (writing to Anne Boleyn) - Mozart (writing to his wife) - Napoleon writing to his wife Josephine - Beethoven (writing to his Immortal Beloved) - Mark Twain (writing to Olivia Langdon) - Oscar Wilde (writing to Lord Alfred Douglas) and more! A short introduction is given to each letter which was concise and welcome background s Love Letters of Great Men by Ursula Doyle is a collection that includes personal and private letters from some great names in history and literature, including: - King Henry VIII (writing to Anne Boleyn) - Mozart (writing to his wife) - Napoleon writing to his wife Josephine - Beethoven (writing to his Immortal Beloved) - Mark Twain (writing to Olivia Langdon) - Oscar Wilde (writing to Lord Alfred Douglas) and more! A short introduction is given to each letter which was concise and welcome background setting the scene. Some of the letters were beautifully written, some poorly written (but all reproduced in type font, so don't worry, you don't have to read their handwriting) and some just down right possessive. I'm talking about you Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Page 37): But I should not like you to take long walks without me. I entreat you to follow my advice exactly, for it comes from my heart. So, it turns out Mozart was possessive, jealous and just a tad bossy. Who knew? For more insights into the love lives of 41 men from history, check out Love Letters of Great Men by Ursula Doyle.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    Though I expected the letters in this collection to be love letters, I must admit that I was overwhelmed with how gag-worthy many of them were. Too much frill and fuss, not enough content in most of the included letters. I mostly enjoyed the small biographies about each 'great man' chosen, as it gave a rare insight into the men behind their professions and accomplishments. I did, however, LOVE Napoleon's letters to Josephine - the sweet anger and no bullshit attitude in them were a nice break fr Though I expected the letters in this collection to be love letters, I must admit that I was overwhelmed with how gag-worthy many of them were. Too much frill and fuss, not enough content in most of the included letters. I mostly enjoyed the small biographies about each 'great man' chosen, as it gave a rare insight into the men behind their professions and accomplishments. I did, however, LOVE Napoleon's letters to Josephine - the sweet anger and no bullshit attitude in them were a nice break from the rosy red, the-sky-is-the-limit, letters. Go Napoleon :)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jacquelyn (O Emme He)

    This book was okay. It was just a collection of Love letters from influential men throughout history and a little background about them and their sweethearts. There were letters from Charles Darwin, Mozart, Beethoven, Lord Byron, and many more.The best ones in my opinion were Daniel Webster and Ludwig van Beethoven. There was nothing particularly wrong with this book. I just think it wasn't my cup of tea. When I originally bought this, I think I was expecting something different or maybe just ex This book was okay. It was just a collection of Love letters from influential men throughout history and a little background about them and their sweethearts. There were letters from Charles Darwin, Mozart, Beethoven, Lord Byron, and many more.The best ones in my opinion were Daniel Webster and Ludwig van Beethoven. There was nothing particularly wrong with this book. I just think it wasn't my cup of tea. When I originally bought this, I think I was expecting something different or maybe just excited to get the book from The sex and the City movie. upon reread (2020): Feel the same way

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jessie

    This was - quite literally - short but sweet. The book is beautifully designed. It had some lovely letters, also some that weren't too interesting in my opinion. Doyle wrote very helpful little biographies of the authors of the love letters, which really added to the experience of reading them. I particularly loved the letters by Henry VIII, Oscar Wilde and Pierre Curie and the letters by Mozart definitely made me giggle. It was a nice and light read, so if you're in the market for something swe This was - quite literally - short but sweet. The book is beautifully designed. It had some lovely letters, also some that weren't too interesting in my opinion. Doyle wrote very helpful little biographies of the authors of the love letters, which really added to the experience of reading them. I particularly loved the letters by Henry VIII, Oscar Wilde and Pierre Curie and the letters by Mozart definitely made me giggle. It was a nice and light read, so if you're in the market for something sweet and light, you might really enjoy this.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Debpriya

    Gives you all the feels, I wish we still had this culture of writing letters especially love letters to each other to convey our feelings. I firmly believe when you write someone a letter, you give them a part of you to keep forever. A must read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jen A.

    This is the book that Carie read from in the movie, Sex and the City, while in bed with Big... and in real life the book didn't exist until moviegoers and fans stormed bookstores looking for it. A collection of love letters from "great" men, this book is exactly what it says it is. Editor Ursula Doyle writes in the introduction, "It could be argued that the flowery declarations were more for show (and, in some cases, posterity) than the genuine expression of genuine feeling - that they grew from This is the book that Carie read from in the movie, Sex and the City, while in bed with Big... and in real life the book didn't exist until moviegoers and fans stormed bookstores looking for it. A collection of love letters from "great" men, this book is exactly what it says it is. Editor Ursula Doyle writes in the introduction, "It could be argued that the flowery declarations were more for show (and, in some cases, posterity) than the genuine expression of genuine feeling - that they grew from convention rather than conviction" and "So while it is to be hoped that this collection entertains, moves and sometimes amuses its readers, it might also serve to remind today's Great Men that literary genius is not a requirement for a heartfelt letter - or text message or email - of love." I couldn't agree more. Reading these letters, today, reminds me that how we express love has changed, but that the effort of expressing it is what counts. Few of these letters engaged me as a reader, but I could see value in reading these expressions from the past, between lovers, married persons, and admirers.

  11. 4 out of 5

    iulia Lambrino

    A great read I must say. A collection of powerful and sentimental letters that lets you enter different times and spaces, from luxury upper-classes in London to horrifying landfills dominated by battles. I see this book not only as an excursion through different places around the world, but also an excursion through different times; emphasising how the meaning of love changed, how societies changed and how they evolved by only the simple changes in expressing feelings or addressing to oneself. I A great read I must say. A collection of powerful and sentimental letters that lets you enter different times and spaces, from luxury upper-classes in London to horrifying landfills dominated by battles. I see this book not only as an excursion through different places around the world, but also an excursion through different times; emphasising how the meaning of love changed, how societies changed and how they evolved by only the simple changes in expressing feelings or addressing to oneself. I really recommend this book, not only for the strong emotions that are transmitted through the letters but also as an act of leisure and meditation. I must say it was a truly enlightening book that was instantly placing me into a relaxed and pace-full state of mind. My favourite letters were the ones from Mark Twain to his wife, as well as the last ones from soldiers of the war-the truly Great Men.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lena

    Story Time: I don't know if any one remembers this but a few years ago in the first Sex and the City movie. Carie reads love letters from a book called "Love Letters of Great Men". It sounded like such a great book to have. But sadly it appeared that this book didn't exist. Nowadays there are many different versions of this book. But for me (living in Belgium) they were unreachable. The book was waaaay to expensive (talking 50 bucks) or they didn't ship it to where I live! But yesterday I finally Story Time: I don't know if any one remembers this but a few years ago in the first Sex and the City movie. Carie reads love letters from a book called "Love Letters of Great Men". It sounded like such a great book to have. But sadly it appeared that this book didn't exist. Nowadays there are many different versions of this book. But for me (living in Belgium) they were unreachable. The book was waaaay to expensive (talking 50 bucks) or they didn't ship it to where I live! But yesterday I finally found it!! I was at a book event where they sell slightly damaged books for cheap prizes and suddenly it was there! Actual Review: Of your beloved L Ever thine. Ever mine. Ever ours. -Beethoven, Love Letter First of all I have to admit that I don't know all the famous people that are in this book. But that's probably more due to my lack of interest in philosophy than the writer. They added a nice touch by giving some background info on the relationship or which stadium of life the different letters were written in. Some were really funny. There's one inside from Daniel Webster who writes a letter to a woman who forgot her hat at his place after a dinner party. This is probably a book that is perfect to give as a gift to someone you love because it's so adorable but not too much and too cheesy!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lee Ann

    Yuck. As the author of this book points out, people seem to complain of how *cynical* everyone is today, especially as far as love goes. "Romance is dead, blah blah blah..." After reading the letters collected here, I humbly disagree. Though we still have a long way to go in terms of equality, at least in today's age, women are more likely to be treated as human beings, and not objects. I get that these men were just "products of their time," but just as Doyle is unwilling to overlook/ignore Che Yuck. As the author of this book points out, people seem to complain of how *cynical* everyone is today, especially as far as love goes. "Romance is dead, blah blah blah..." After reading the letters collected here, I humbly disagree. Though we still have a long way to go in terms of equality, at least in today's age, women are more likely to be treated as human beings, and not objects. I get that these men were just "products of their time," but just as Doyle is unwilling to overlook/ignore Chesterton's Antisemitism, as am I unwilling to overlook these men's disgusting habits of objectifying and manipulating the women they supposedly love. There were a few winning qualities: I found the little biographies before each letter interesting, though there was some wording I wish Doyle would've changed (i.e. when a wife cheated on her husband, it was an "affair," but when a man cheated with a married woman it was "love"), but otherwise I found them interesting, and Doyle's neutrality didn't seem to overly-romanticize the more unhealthy relationships. I like that Doyle did not exclude Wilde's homosexuality as well. I was afraid for a moment, as she went on about his marriage, that she was going to ignore that portion of his life completely and instead deliver some letters from his early courtship with his wife (if those even exist?); but no, she only included the letters he wrote to his male partner. And of the letters, Wilde's were perhaps the most respectful of their subject (Twain's too, and the last letter in the book from the soldier who told his girlfriend she was free to have a life while he was at war). The rest... Ugh, just UGH. Alexander Pope explicitly writes that he takes a woman's silence as her "consent." Several of the men refer to the women as prizes to be "won." Laurence Sterne called his "beloved" a slut. One of the men (and by this point I was so fed up with this, I didn't note which) referred to a woman as a literal "object" that he desired. Darwin wrote about how he wanted a nice "soft wife" to look pretty "on the sofa," like some decoration -- and not, y'know, a human being. Napoleon threw tantrums because his wife -- GOD FORBID! -- had a social life and didn't sit around waiting for him to return from battle. Nearly every letter made me want to throw up. What makes me so sad is that this book is called "LOVE Letters of Great Men." It romanticizes the abusive, manipulative, dehumanizing behavior that these "great" men exhibit. In Sex and the City, Carrie sits and sighs over these letters. Perhaps it was poor choice on Doyle's part, in arranging this book, but none of these letters should be read as romantic. The men come off as possessive and creepy. The women don't seem to have any agency. It makes me sad. Perhaps I'm biased. I'm lucky to be in a relationship where we respect each other, where we give each other distance, let each other spend time with our friends, and don't get unreasonably jealous if those friends are of the opposite sex. We understand that our lives don't revolve around each other, and expecting them to would be harmful. But we still cherish every single second we get to spend together, and we trust each other. That, I believe, is love. Not this whole "WAH WAH ME ME ME, LOVE ME, OR ELSE I'LL JUST POSITIVELY KILL MYSELF, DON'T EVEN LOOK AT ANOTHER MAN" bullshit. That's obsession. That's abuse. If you're in that kind of relationship, if you romanticize your partner's "ownership" of you, please seek help and love yourself.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Vijai

    Believe it or not, back when I was young and innocent enough to have a steady relationship with an amazing woman, I had written love letters to her. Now, that we've moved on and laugh at each other about the things we did in our little puppy-love saga, the most she laughs at is about my love letters. 'Whafuck?' I thought to myself one day and decided to read what some "great" men had written to their angels. To benchmark, you know. Well, it does my heart good that when in love these "great" men w Believe it or not, back when I was young and innocent enough to have a steady relationship with an amazing woman, I had written love letters to her. Now, that we've moved on and laugh at each other about the things we did in our little puppy-love saga, the most she laughs at is about my love letters. 'Whafuck?' I thought to myself one day and decided to read what some "great" men had written to their angels. To benchmark, you know. Well, it does my heart good that when in love these "great" men wrote as corny and cheesy love letters as I did. You might enjoy this book if you are romantic and all but if you aren't, which is like me - battered, wizened and polished by age and experience - brace yourself for a massive cringe'athon.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rides and Strides

    Not all the great men in this collection wrote great love letters, although undoubtedly, some of the passion must have been lost in translation and/or lack of context. My favourite has got to be Daniel Webster's simple yet affectionate letter to a young woman who had left her bonnet at his house: "I gave it my parting good wishes; hoping that it might never cover an aching head, and that the eyes which it protects from the rays of the sun, may know no tears but those of joy and affection." Cynica Not all the great men in this collection wrote great love letters, although undoubtedly, some of the passion must have been lost in translation and/or lack of context. My favourite has got to be Daniel Webster's simple yet affectionate letter to a young woman who had left her bonnet at his house: "I gave it my parting good wishes; hoping that it might never cover an aching head, and that the eyes which it protects from the rays of the sun, may know no tears but those of joy and affection." Cynical as some of us like to claim we are, perhaps there's always a little part of us that yearns for old-fashioned romance.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Claire - The Coffeeholic Bookworm

    OKay, some great men (poets, musicians, warriors and authors) of yesteryears had proven that they had been hopeless romantics too. But not all of them were as prolific as we thought them to be. Like for example, Mozart, though he was great composing lyrics, his letter for his wife was rather not all it was cracked up to be. And then there's Napoleon who always thought about war and women, the eloquent Oscar Wilde and so many more. I thought this book was kind of funny and at the same time, poeti OKay, some great men (poets, musicians, warriors and authors) of yesteryears had proven that they had been hopeless romantics too. But not all of them were as prolific as we thought them to be. Like for example, Mozart, though he was great composing lyrics, his letter for his wife was rather not all it was cracked up to be. And then there's Napoleon who always thought about war and women, the eloquent Oscar Wilde and so many more. I thought this book was kind of funny and at the same time, poetically engaging. Makes you appreciate the lines and quotes and terms of endearment more than what we usually write nowadays. It was a good read while it lasted.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Soukyan Blackwood

    The rest of this long review is at Msg2theMing. I truly don’t know how to rate this. In the end, they’re just letters. Personal and meant for one pair of eyes, no more. Someone who, as they expected, wouldn’t judge. Thus, I decided I won’t judge either and give it a fair 5 out of 5. It’s worth reading, especially to those who still have old-fashioned romanticism in their hearts. The rest of this long review is at Msg2theMing. I truly don’t know how to rate this. In the end, they’re just letters. Personal and meant for one pair of eyes, no more. Someone who, as they expected, wouldn’t judge. Thus, I decided I won’t judge either and give it a fair 5 out of 5. It’s worth reading, especially to those who still have old-fashioned romanticism in their hearts.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Colin

    An interesting book. The first entry is a letter of Pliny the Younger to his wife, which I had actually read in Latin with my Latin 3 class the day before I first picked this book up and looked at it. Anyway, some of these are truly eloquent, others simply of great historical interest. I am flattered that my own love letters are somewhat better than those of some of these "great men." An interesting book. The first entry is a letter of Pliny the Younger to his wife, which I had actually read in Latin with my Latin 3 class the day before I first picked this book up and looked at it. Anyway, some of these are truly eloquent, others simply of great historical interest. I am flattered that my own love letters are somewhat better than those of some of these "great men."

  19. 5 out of 5

    Zoi Gkatziona

    I found all the biographical notes included quite interesting. This cute booklet sheds light on the sentimental world of all these more or less known to me men. That's very interesting, too. But so much romance? I got a little bored! I found all the biographical notes included quite interesting. This cute booklet sheds light on the sentimental world of all these more or less known to me men. That's very interesting, too. But so much romance? I got a little bored!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Quiver

    As the Introduction to the collection itself says, a vast number of these letters would not merit a glance if received today. Self-centred, egoistic, flowery, and impossibly cloying, they would be interpreted as hyperbolas or perhaps childlike attempts at humour. Perhaps teenagers write such things still. Perhaps we all do occasionally in our diaries, and not so occasionally in our hearts, but meritorious literature these letters hardly are. In fact perhaps a love letter is like underwear: meant As the Introduction to the collection itself says, a vast number of these letters would not merit a glance if received today. Self-centred, egoistic, flowery, and impossibly cloying, they would be interpreted as hyperbolas or perhaps childlike attempts at humour. Perhaps teenagers write such things still. Perhaps we all do occasionally in our diaries, and not so occasionally in our hearts, but meritorious literature these letters hardly are. In fact perhaps a love letter is like underwear: meant for some eyes that will judge it by a criterion much different to ours. There are few letters that stand out, however. I would recommend taking a look at Napoleon's (who berates and chides before asking for mercy), Daniel Webster's (who ends up writing an ode to a hat, all with a substantial personification included), Keats' (for the universal line "I have met with women whom I really think would like to be married to a Poem and to be given away by a Novel"), Wilde's (the immortal romantic stylist writing in aphorisms even when writing prose: "be happy to have filled with an immortal love the soul of man who now weeps in hell, and yet carries heaven in his heart."), and Chesterton's (who lists his possessions, like 'Straw Hat' and 'Walking Stick', and amongst which we find 'A Soul', 'A Body', and 'A Heart — mislaid somewhere').

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tori

    Most of these were kind of ridiculous, to be honest, but I am a bitter old hag who thinks romance is dead and good riddance to it.... But Napoleon, man. Come at me, son. He is a sassy drama cow and I AM HERE FOR IT. On the whole, if my husband sat down and sent me a letter about how perfect I am and how much he loves me and how happy I have made him, I would take his temperature and then a blood sample to find out how he got possessed by a demon/Napoleon. But I would also be deeply flattered and p Most of these were kind of ridiculous, to be honest, but I am a bitter old hag who thinks romance is dead and good riddance to it.... But Napoleon, man. Come at me, son. He is a sassy drama cow and I AM HERE FOR IT. On the whole, if my husband sat down and sent me a letter about how perfect I am and how much he loves me and how happy I have made him, I would take his temperature and then a blood sample to find out how he got possessed by a demon/Napoleon. But I would also be deeply flattered and perhaps reply in kind. The Modern World makes it hard to believe in romance, but I still read this book cover to cover. What does that say about me?

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sohair Elmowafy

    PHEW, that was totally exhausting to read. If I ever had any remaining doubt in myself that I am NOT a romantic person, this would be it. On the other hand, some of the imagery and metaphors that these men used were quite powerful and beautiful, and it was interesting to read letters from people like Napoleon and a number of US presidents. Cool book, but if you don't dig the romance thing, this isn't for you because my GOD these men give the term "sappy romance" a whole new meaning, haha. PHEW, that was totally exhausting to read. If I ever had any remaining doubt in myself that I am NOT a romantic person, this would be it. On the other hand, some of the imagery and metaphors that these men used were quite powerful and beautiful, and it was interesting to read letters from people like Napoleon and a number of US presidents. Cool book, but if you don't dig the romance thing, this isn't for you because my GOD these men give the term "sappy romance" a whole new meaning, haha.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Annalise Nakoneczny

    I've never seen Sex and the City, but I'm thankful for it now, because it inspired the creation of this anthology of love letters. (There's also one of love letters from great women.) It was fascinating to read these accounts of love. Some were a little weird and some were a little upsetting. My favorites were probably Robert Schumann, Robert Browning, John Keats, and the letters from the Great War. All the happy ones :) I've never seen Sex and the City, but I'm thankful for it now, because it inspired the creation of this anthology of love letters. (There's also one of love letters from great women.) It was fascinating to read these accounts of love. Some were a little weird and some were a little upsetting. My favorites were probably Robert Schumann, Robert Browning, John Keats, and the letters from the Great War. All the happy ones :)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Maddison

    Lovely, small, succinct. A nice, little collection of love letters written by a (somewhat) wide variety of mostly famous dudes from bygone eras. Some of them are heartwarming, some hilarious, some reeking of desperation and egoism, but all are an interesting way to see just how much humans have not changed over time. Also makes me slightly nostalgic for a time of slow moving communication where effort was needed.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elise

    A small collection of letters from a bunch of different men through history. I think I expected more from this - in a lot of cases I wondered why a particular letter had been chosen because there was evidently too much context behind the words that the reader was missing. Of course that would always happen to a degree; that said, there are still some beautiful letters in here. My notables were: * The three from Great War soldiers right at the end. * Pierre Curie * Napoleon (mostly for the lols, and A small collection of letters from a bunch of different men through history. I think I expected more from this - in a lot of cases I wondered why a particular letter had been chosen because there was evidently too much context behind the words that the reader was missing. Of course that would always happen to a degree; that said, there are still some beautiful letters in here. My notables were: * The three from Great War soldiers right at the end. * Pierre Curie * Napoleon (mostly for the lols, and empathy for my poor husband who has a wife who doesn’t answer her phone or text messages as much as he would wish!) * Mark Twain * Victor Hugo * Mozart * Benjamin Disraeli * Nathaniel Hawthorne * Charles Darwin

  26. 5 out of 5

    Zyzy

    I would have loved this book at 14. But, my 25 year-old ass is too cynical to appreciate this kind of love letters. Most of them are boring to the point of becoming ridiculous, only two or three are noteworthy.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    Apparently this collection was an outgrowth of several quotes from a fictitious book by the same name, but using actual love letters from some of history's - let's say better-known men, rather than great men, as plenty of them had quite enough by way of ego to be getting along with - on Sex And The City. People wanted to read the book, so it was essentially summoned into being by public demand. As a collection, it's interesting, and the characters of the writers come through - as you might expect Apparently this collection was an outgrowth of several quotes from a fictitious book by the same name, but using actual love letters from some of history's - let's say better-known men, rather than great men, as plenty of them had quite enough by way of ego to be getting along with - on Sex And The City. People wanted to read the book, so it was essentially summoned into being by public demand. As a collection, it's interesting, and the characters of the writers come through - as you might expect, given we're eavesdropping on their most intimate and private correspondence - somewhat unvarnished, not to say naked. To some extent, what we learn conforms to historical stereotype - Mozart had a mind centred on extravagant filth in his wooing, Beethoven was somewhat tortured by inaction and impossibility in addressing his Immortal Beloved, Mark Twain had a twitch of humour even about his private person, and frankly the emperor Napoleon needed a good hard slap and a fuming hour on the Naughty Step. Where things get perhaps more interesting is in the lives and modes of expression of men who have not especially come down to us for the quality of their love or its passion. William Congreve expresses himself both with a degree of fervency and also a twist of what feels like a shared joke in the space of a language's relationship. Gustave Flaubert (writer of Madame Bovary) seems less affected and more affectionate in his private letters than his public prose, and the same is true of Robert Browning - both of course make a certain amount of sense; most writers writing to their lovers in the style they use for their publishers and their audience would get a clip round the ear and an invitation to go jump off something high. What is good to see here then is that they had that sense of distance between work and life. Not so Charles Darwin, who, in full-on categoriser mode, decided to write a pro/con list on the question of whether to get married. If he didn't, he realised, he would be free to travel and see the world that had inspired him on his Beagle voyage. If he did, of course, there would be an 'object to be adored and played with - better than a dog, anyway.' He at least had the sense though to keep that particular list from the eyes of his would-be wife, but his idea of love focuses on the bucolic pleasures of home and companionship, rather than those of any private or romantic joys. Benjamin Disraeli, Tory politician and advocate of empire, also seemed to carry his work mindset into his private life, writing what might be the most Tory love note ever, expressing as it does his initial lack of attraction to his partner, and his distinct attraction to her wealth. He stands on his dignity rather, claiming that a union with her would ultimately do him no worldly good. To at least give him a writer's credit though, he turns the end of his letter to his lover's praise, saying that even though it would do him no financial or social good, he stays with her, because a love has grown within him during their association. There are lots of other men in this collection - perhaps an important addition being Oscar Wilde - and what it ultimately paints, however episodically, is a picture of men's love as it has been expressed throughout the centuries by poets, playwrights, politicians, scientists, any man with a career and a heart to offer. It's romantic in parts, demanding and difficult in others, and is ultimately a handful of snapshots, succinctly contextualized by introductions, into what men think they have to offer a partner, and how they go about wooing the ones they think they love.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    I think I liked the idea of this book more than the actual book itself. That being said I did love some of the letters, especially the ones from Napoleon Bonaparte, Lord Byron, John Keats, Honore de Balzac, Mark Twain and the letters from the great war. At least half of these letters show the great men to be unhappy and insecure in love, so much so that the letters seem to exude an anxious and unstable atmosphere. Some of the declarations of love came across as obsessions rather than the passion I think I liked the idea of this book more than the actual book itself. That being said I did love some of the letters, especially the ones from Napoleon Bonaparte, Lord Byron, John Keats, Honore de Balzac, Mark Twain and the letters from the great war. At least half of these letters show the great men to be unhappy and insecure in love, so much so that the letters seem to exude an anxious and unstable atmosphere. Some of the declarations of love came across as obsessions rather than the passion that was probably intended. My favourite letter of the lot was definitely the one from Mark Twain to his wife Livy. It was refreshing to come across this letter that showed the writer to be content and happily in love, especially after some of the rather intense and desperate letters I read through before this one. It was as if a weight had been lifted and I was allowed to breathe a sigh of relief that at least one of these 'great men' seemed to feel comfortable about being in love and realised that it didn't have to be complicated. Overall, a lot of interesting and heartfelt letters, although I would suggest not reading it in one go, as some of the letters might start to merge into one. Definitely take your time with it. Also, I don't know if it's at all possible, but it would have been awesome if the letters could have had the font style of the original handwriting to make them seem more personal to the writer.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lisa N

    Lame…….I was attracted by the title. I found many of these letters juvenile and even comical. Most of them were written to mistresses. One of my favorites was a letter from Robert Burns to Mrs. Agnes Maclehose. They used the pennames of ‘Sylvander’ and ‘Clarinda’ to protect their identities during their “passionate correspondence.” Burns “rather impressively managed to impregnate Mrs. Maclehose’s maidservant Jenny Clow at the same time as carrying on the heated correspondence with her mistress. Lame…….I was attracted by the title. I found many of these letters juvenile and even comical. Most of them were written to mistresses. One of my favorites was a letter from Robert Burns to Mrs. Agnes Maclehose. They used the pennames of ‘Sylvander’ and ‘Clarinda’ to protect their identities during their “passionate correspondence.” Burns “rather impressively managed to impregnate Mrs. Maclehose’s maidservant Jenny Clow at the same time as carrying on the heated correspondence with her mistress. He was also maintaining a relationship with Jean Armour…who had borne him twins…and was once again pregnant.” No doubt he wrote great letters. Two other letters I particularly enjoyed were Mark Twain’s to his wife Livy on her 30th birthday and Robert Browning’s to his wife Elizabeth Barrett on the morning of their wedding day. These were a little too classy for the rest of the book. A random, scant collection.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Autumn

    The title of this should read " Love Letters of Well Known Men" because frankly some of these men weren't "great" catches. Henry VIII wrote a very sweet letter to Ann Boleyn and it is included in this collection. It's such a nice letter with such tender friendship, it's hard to believe that he beheaded her a couple years later. My favorite letters were from Napoleon to his wife Josephine Bonaparte. He whines and chastises her for not returning his affection by never writing him. He even states h The title of this should read " Love Letters of Well Known Men" because frankly some of these men weren't "great" catches. Henry VIII wrote a very sweet letter to Ann Boleyn and it is included in this collection. It's such a nice letter with such tender friendship, it's hard to believe that he beheaded her a couple years later. My favorite letters were from Napoleon to his wife Josephine Bonaparte. He whines and chastises her for not returning his affection by never writing him. He even states he hates her, then later in the letters that follow felt remorse for his words and grovels. The letters are quite humorous, because the lovers seem so immature and young. He seemed like a very insecure man which I found unexpected and interesting. Of course, great men were included. For example, Samuel Clemens showed admirable family man qualities and his wife didn't lose her head. Kudos to him. 3 stars. Definitely an entertaining insightful collection. A perfect gift for romantics.

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