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More sense than emotion

Rational but slightly passionate approach to the madness of love.


Can the pedophile Humbert Humbert's obsession with 12-year-old Lolita, in Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita, called love? Does Hollywood's romantic comedy give a realistic picture of love? And can love survive feminism?

Philosopher and writer Hanne Andrea Kraugerud has in the book Give me your heart gone in search of love and our perception of it. She's looking high and low; in literature, in film, in politics, in radicalism, in feminism. In the liberated and in the connected. In the emotional romance, and in the cynical reason.

The dreamer and the planner

She finds, first and foremost, two different views of love among two opposite types of people: the Dreamer and the Planner. The dreamer views love as something adventurous, wonderful, profound, possessive and, not least: unmanageable. Love arises as a kind of illness, a madness, completely out of control of the affected. Here Kraugerud highlights the French love thinker Marie Henri Beyle, better known as Stendhal, and his claim that little is as deadly to love as unimaginative, reality-oriented reason. Lieutenant Glahn and Edvarda's stormy, impossible love in Knut Hamsun's Pan is one of several examples of the Dreamer's passionate view of love.

The exact opposite view is expressed by the Planner, which Kraugerud first and foremost finds where love marriages are not necessarily the norm – be it in Europe in the 1800th century, among Egyptian Bedouins in the 1970s or among some of today's young Norwegian Muslims. For the Planner, it is reason that controls the ship – love is something that can arise if the relationship between two people is conducive to it: Common background and a corresponding view of finances, culture, family life, child rearing. Once you have checked that all this matches – yes, then you can go and fall in love. Falling in love and love is not an uncontrollable madness, but rather a will-controlled, well-considered action.

Stifling feminism

But, argues Kraugerud, even in communities where the Dreamer stands strongest, the Planner's view lurks beneath the surface. And the opposite. Bedouin married couples can dream of the one they never got, western couples try out each other's compatibility before they dare marry. Thus, the two opposites in love have many similarities, Kraugerud points out, but also goes no further in exploring this similarity between what are often perceived as two incompatible views of love. She also ends up taking a clear stand for the Dreamer's love view; for the passion, the madness, the adventure and the drunkenness.

With this in mind, it is therefore not strange that she also goes in defense of Hollywood's cut-throat romantic comedies, which represent precisely the Dreamer's fantasy of all-over love. More surprisingly, she might argue that adventure films like Pretty Woman og Notting Hill in fact, reflects part of reality. At the same time as she asks if feminism is not on the rise in the fight against the traditional gender roles – at least in relation to love.

It seems, Kraugerud believes, that "feminism does not take in sufficiently that conventional gender differences can actually play both a mediating and a magical role in the mutual community that constitutes a love couple." Traditional gender roles create romance, she argues, feminism suffocates it. A play that is not only well-suited to teasing the country's feminists, but also hopefully able to spark a serious debate about women's position in society as well as in love. Whether you agree with her or not may be another matter.

passion Resolved

It is then also in the chapter on love versus feminism that Kraugerud's book is most exciting. This is where she raises the most relevant questions, and sometimes draws the most interesting conclusions. But on the whole, unfortunately, there is something easily passionate about the whole book.

Kraugerud has set out to hunt for the great love, but what she finds bears more the mark of measured realism. Despite obvious instances of willingness to provoke, the reader is left with a slightly disappointed shrug: "Well, and so what?". Like when Kraugerud concludes that all types of love relationships are basically equal – regardless of how equal the girlfriends are. It's getting a little tame. The language is also not suitable for great excitement – the book is more like a cool dissertation than a burning defense of love. The love quotes from known and unknown people that spice up the margin on most of the book's 175 pages are a liberating breath in that way, and evenly above what adds to the book's emotions. The rest is mostly common sense. Ironically, from an author who cheers on passion, madness and adventure.

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