Synopses & Reviews
Few people have failed at love as spectacularly as the great philosophers. Although we admire their wisdom, history is littered with the romantic failures of the most sensible men and women of every age, including:
Friedrich Nietzsche: "Ah, women. They make the highs higher and the lows more frequent." (Rejected by everyone he proposed to, even when he kept asking and asking.)
Jean-Paul Sartre: "There are of course ugly women, but I prefer those who are pretty." (Adopted his mistress as his daughter.)
Louis Althusser: "The trouble is there are bodies and, worse still, sexual organs." (Accidentally strangled his wife to death.)
And dozens of other great thinkers whose words we revere—but whose romantic decisions we should avoid at all costs.
"Shaffer's jaunty compendium of highbrow heartbreak provides proof positive that even the most brilliant of minds can fall afoul of Cupid and offers some measure of hope to the lovelorn. He profiles 37 great Western thinkers, detailing the sometimes lurid, always disastrous ways their love lives imploded. The brisk biographies paint a picture of the pitfalls of marriage, dating, and love, but also a philosophy primer. And after learning that Louis Althusser 'accidentally' murdered his wife, that Albert Camus divorced his wife after discovering she was sleeping with a doctor in exchange for morphine, that Friedrich Nietzsche engaged in sexual intercourse on several occasions 'on doctor's orders,' and that Martin Heidegger discovered his son was the product of an affair between his wife and a family friend, almost everyone will feel better about his or her love life. (Jan.) Â A Being So Gentle: The Frontier Love Story of Rachel and Andrew Jackson Patricia Brady Palgrave Macmillan, (272p) ISBN 978-0-230-60950-1 'Their greatest happiness was being together, and they were miserable when apart.' But Andrew and Rachel Jackson's marriage led to vicious smears during the 1828 presidential campaign, when opponents labeled Rachel an adulteress, bigamist, and whore. The Jacksons' adoring 40-year marriage, in fact, began with an elopement while Rachel was still married to a successful but overly possessive merchant. Unable legally to seek a divorce after she fell in love with Jackson, her mother's lodger, Rachel fled with him to Mississippi and Kentucky, and the legality of their marriage remained opaque. Following Rachel's death soon after his election as president, Jackson 'mourned every day for the rest of his life.' In a narrative more simplistic than nuanced, Brady (Martha Washington) nevertheless spins an absorbing tale of lovers in adversity and reveals the humanity of an ambitious, calculating politician. 16 pages of b&w illus. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
About the Author
Andrew Shaffer is the author of Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love and, under the pen name Fanny Merkin, Fifty Shames of Earl Grey. His writing has appeared in such diverse publications as Mental Floss and Maxim. An Iowa native, Shaffer lives in Lexington, Kentucky, a magical land of horses and bourbon.