Love and Language

Ilan Stavans with Verónica Albin

View Inside Price: $61.00

October 30, 2007
288 pages, 5 1/2 x 7
15 color illus.
ISBN: 9780300118056

Read an excerpt published by the
San Francisco Chronicle, "Critic Ilan Stavans on the languages of love."

Our understanding of love today is not the same as the one espoused by Plato in the fourth century BCE. Nor is it the same as the courtly love of the Renaissance, or love as defined by Stendhal or Proust or Freud. In this utterly original book, cultural critic Ilan Stavans engages in an exhilarating dialogue with Verónica Albin about love and its various   manifestations. Roaming through millennia, across geographical boundaries, and from culture to culture, Stavans surprises us again and again with new perspectives on love—how we conceive of it, how it differs from place to place, what roles it plays in people’s lives, how it appears in art and literature.


An engaging and provocative thinker, Stavans draws on a rich multiheritage background to probe his topic and to call attention to the differences between languages. As Albin observes, Stavans is “at once an incisive thinker and a powerful storyteller.” The scope of his erudition is dazzling—he readily quotes from history, literature, and Scripture, but ponders with equal care the content of telenovas and Walt Disney cartoons. He uses dialogue as a path to the truth about love, and readers who accompany Stavans on this path will encounter a wealth of unanticipated insights into this most ethereal of emotions.


Ilan Stavans is Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture, Amherst College. He is editor in chief of the four-volume Encyclopedia Latina: History, Culture, and Society in the United States and author of The Hispanic Condition and Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language, among many other publications. He lives in Amherst, MA. Verónica Albin is senior lecturer of Spanish and translation, Rice University, and a regular contributor to Translation Journal. She lives in Bellaire, TX.

“A virtuoso critic with an exuberant, encyclopedic, restless mind.”—Forward

Latin America’s liveliest and boldest critic and most innovative cultural enthusiast.”—Washington Post


“An erudite critic in the tradition of Edmund Wilson.”—The Nation



“Ilan Stavans may very well succeed in becoming the Octavio Paz of our age.”—San Francisco Chronicle


“A canon-maker.”—Chronicle of Higher Education

“In this lively, erudite conversation Stavans ranges over literature, etymology, philosophy, mythology, and sexuality. The heart of his investigation is how language is used to convey emotion, and how literature is 'a form of empathy' and 'inspired testimony' that connects us with the human experience. Stavans generously shares not only his considerable learning, but his own experience, making this book a unique exploration of love and language.”—Fred R. Shapiro, Editor, Yale Book of Quotations



"It is obvious from the first pages that Stavans has both an impressive knowledge and a unique understanding of the topic; Albin, for her part, is skilled in drawing him out and steers the conversations adeptly. Stavans's sources are wide-ranging: from Greek mythology to the Kama Sutra, from telenovellas to the Internet. . . . Scholarly analysis in an engaging and personal form."—Library Journal

"Love and Language is a record of very large reflective musings on personal and societal views on love and its complex interrelationship with language. . . . [It] is an exciting work. It deals with subjects respectfully, withouth reservation."—Canadian Jewish News
The Jewish Identity Project
New American Photography

Susan Chevlowe; With contributions by Joanna Lindenbaum and

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