Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

Chu

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All the ignorance and arrogance and my past mistakes, particularly in relationships, started showing up, one after another. Sort of like my subconscious sat me down and, "Look son, it's time we had a talk," and started up a kind of 'recapitulation slideshow' of all of what I've done - the darker side of who I am.

There wasn't any associated emotions of despair or guilt, shame, or rejection. Instead there was a sense of release, of calm, and a contentedness in the recognition of who I am. As if to say, "Ah, bless you, you silly fool." So I can cautiously claim it was a happiness.

That's great, I think! I can relate. The past takes on a new meaning quite often, and when you can see others making similar mistakes, you don't judge them as harshly as yourself. And they too, managed to grow from their experiences in the books, so when there is a will, there is a way.
 

Chu

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In light of the last C’s session about sharing reading and learnings, I’ve decided to share something.
There is one thing about the male characters that hasn’t permeated any new understanding for me , yet. I’m hoping I’ll get there.
I find it incredulous that the men love these women so deeply. I feel like it is the most foreign thing to me. Intellectually I understand men as being capable of loving but my lived experience is not this. I have a total cognitive dissonance in this matter when I’m reading these stories.
I’m totally lost with it, I’ll just keep reading I guess. I feel like I have lived with a broken heart my entire life.

Maybe as you keep reading, something will start really making sense. And perhaps having a personal thread where you can share more? It can always help other people too!
 

Gaby

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I recently started Elisa Braden's Rescued From Ruin Series after reading the prequel Forever Yours Annabelle which I thought was really moving and I very much like her style of writing. She can be very funny! There is this sour post-menopausal woman who is actually pretty insightful and at times hilarious and I love that about these series. I hope to read more about her as there must be more to her than meets the eye.

I cried a few tears while reading Desperately Seeking a Scoundrel and am completely taken in by the stories about these 'scoundrels' who meet their right match and turn into honourable men. I am currently reading The Devil is a Marquess and I find it hard to put down. But then I have already read quite a few novels...
I absolutely loved these 3 books. Though the record of bringing me to tears goes to Scarlett Scott's "Marquess of Mayhem" and one by Stacey Reid. But Elisa Braden is funny, insightful and her series are truly "Rescued from Ruin"! "The Devil is a Marquess" had a brilliant ending and just when I thought it couldn't possibly get any better after that, then follows "When a Girl Loves an Earl"- a story that I thought I wouldn't like from just from reading the back cover. It turned out to be one of my favorites too. I read one more, the novella "Twelve Nights as His Mistress" and then I took a detour with Julia Quinn - The Bridgertons, which I wasn't able to put down. Even though Julia Quinn does cover simple understandings in quite a mesmerizing way, at this stage I found it easier to read than some of Elisa Braden's stories.

I'm now in the Bridgerton prequels - The Rokesbys. The last one I read was "The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband". I couldn't help but sympathize with the heroine's rationalizations as to why she couldn't tell the truth about her situation. Knowing that certain situations were unfixable (this point of view perhaps coming from a past life self), it was always very healing to see how the story had a positive resolution. Some stories were more believable than others, at least for a recalcitrant belief center - usually by the heroes choice to love, be courageous and stand for the truth, instead of living in lies or rationalizations or fears. When the story comes to an end, you realize that it really was not supposed to be so damn difficult. It's really a simple process and no rocket science. It goes back as to how the Cs phrase it "simple understandings". Though I guess that suffering is unavoidable if one is to learn.

Q: (L) What kind of lessons are we talking about here?
A: Karmic and simple understandings.
Q: (L) What are the key elements of these understandings, and are they fairly universal?
A: They are universal

I'll pick up Elisa Braden again after finishing the Rokesby series. I have a feeling of the adventure ahead will be very rich indeed.

The results of a study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience showed that people who associate themselves with fictional characters activate a part of the brain called the ventral medial prefrontal cortex (vMPFC), which usually becomes most active when a person thinks about himself. This means that people who are keen on the heroes of the book evaluate and perceive them the same way as themselves.

I remember reading that research back then when it was published. It makes me wonder if that is the reason why my reality changed so much after I started reading "fiction for the soul". I was just aiming for something to feel the void back then in 2003 and just picked up books everybody else was reading - bestsellers. Shortly afterwards, I was really searching and came across the Cassiopaean website. Fast forward many years, and now we have this reading project. I'm happy to see people joining the adventure.

There are stories that definitely resonated with what could only be past life issues. Experiencing and exploring past issues with a resolution as light at the end of the tunnel helps us to rise up in what can be best phrased as "frequency resonance vibration", making it possible to shed light to past sufferings with "simple understandings".

I have had the opportunity to do past life integrations of experiences that could only be described as "how do you heal from something like that?" I suspect we all have our own versions of that puzzlement. Well, I have found that this reading project is surely one way to do just that. We are truly here to learn about love.

I also noticed something else. I've been reading notes that I accumulated over the years on dreams, experiences, etc. in search for clues or insights that may shed light on past mistakes and as a form of a life recapitulation. I put it off for the longest time, the major excuse was that you just don't want to recap past mistakes and the way you once were. With the current reading project, I've noticed that I don't fuss about it anymore. No problem, let's see what I was up to in such and such a year with no judgment. I'm surprised that it hasn't proven to be the chore that I thought it was going to be. On the contrary, sometimes I look forward to it and have lots of insights that I clearly missed in the past. Or like the Cs once said:

[950723] "A: You see when you speed too quickly in the process of learning and gathering knowledge, it is like skipping down the road without pausing to reflect on the ground beneath you. One misses the gold coins and the gemstones contained within the cracks in the road."
 

Aeneas

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I think it's comparable to transition.
Yes, that is also how I have been thinking. It is said that after death, people pass through a life review, going to all these places and times in their lives of interest, places of pain, unresolved issues, hurts both to others and to themselves etc. By reading these novels, we are possibly able to extract the lessons while still in the body so that the life review will be much faster. In to that picture comes potentially past lives where issues and karma is still stuck and reading these novels and experiencing them on an emotional level, karmic stuff might just get resolved.

Having read 30+ novels, I find myself going through so many things of my past including childhood dynamics that it has been quite a roller coaster. Seeing myself in ways I hadn't thought of and gaining understanding with a distance of why I acted the way I did.
Balogh is also my favorite as she is great at exploring the getting to the nitty gritty of the emotional traumas and past transgressions which are holding the characters back from living their full potential in the present.
Like Laura said about visualization, by living all these various lives, it's like going through numerous mini past life reviews.
Indeed and doing those visualizations in one's own mind and brewing over them has a very different impact that just watching a 2 hour movie where issues are rarely touched on at much depth.

Having decided to read the Bible in preparation for Laura's book, the romance novels are a great respite from all the smiting, death and destruction which Yahweh and his stiff-necked people wreck on all the other people in their foundation myth. It is like coming up for a breath of fresh air after having suffered a bout of sulphurous air ;-)

It is truly the direct opposite approach to life. In the bible, the people stay as children, are irresponsible authoritarian slaves and solve issues by revenge, bloodlust, killing, destruction and mayhem in a neverending cycle of violence. In the romance novels people learn to grow up and take responsibility along with caring for others and solving issues via dialogue, understanding and mutual respect. Very life affirming and hope giving.
 

Mari

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Today I investigated my local library aaaaand I found 23 books from the list :clap:
I'm in !!! :read:
I found online Croatian translation of the book „Seven nights in a rouge bed“ after I‘ve read original one - it was awful!!! Like someone just put it through translator with no emotions or anything, completely out of the „spirit“ of the language.... I‘ve read first page and was turned down. So, I don’t know of the quality of the other books but that was my (only) experience with these books in our native language.

Also I’ve searched to buy some books for my godmother who loves romanse novels and i.e. couldn’t find any of the M.Balogh books to buy on Cro online book stores.
I do hope that some exist in libraries because IMO she is a must read heavy category of this project....
 

thorbiorn

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And then, standalone: Tangled.

Oh boy. This one was a complete doozie! It is one book that seems to me to give a really good picture of private life in Victorian England (not Regency.) I don't think I've ever read about a heroine who was so brainwashed, so programmed by her society and family, and so lacking in insight as this one. And the PAIN! Oh my gawd! This one just tears your heart out for the poor hero!
This drama in this book involves two brothers of which one was adopted into the family of the other. They both go to the Crimean War (1853-1856), see also the entries in Britannica, History.com, or Historic-uk.com and both fight in the same battles.
The historical background of the novel
Mary Balogh has this to say about the background:
In September the British and the French landed in the Crimea and the enemy was finally engaged, first in the storming of the Alma Heights on the 20th and then, after a few minor clashes, in the Battles of Balaclava on October 25th and Little Inkerman the following day. The Guards established their camp up on the Chersonese Plateau, between Balaclava to the south and Sebastopol to the north.
This is pretty close to what The Royal Collection Trust has to say:
The allies landed in the Crimea on 14 September 1854 and made their way towards Sevastopol, encountering the Russians in several major battles en route including Alma (20 September), Balaklava (25 October) and Inkerman (5 November).
For a map:
Screenshot 2021-03-18 215253.png

Another passage is:
Many thousands of the wounded who wanted desperately to live did not do so. He did not even want to live and yet did.

He cursed the surgeon who would have amputated both his arm and his leg, and threatened him with death or worse if he did so.

Both balls were removed at the hospital at Balaclava. And then the fever set in, the fever that killed far more men than either the wounds or the shock of amputation ever did. The fever made him quite unaware that he was moved yet again and set on board ship and transferred to the barrack hospital at Scutari. Perhaps he would have died there—almost certainly he would have done so—if there had not been a group of lady nurses newly arrived from England who insisted on organization and cleanliness and air and space.

Even so it was amazing that he lived. One of the nurses—their leader—warned him that he might not.

"Your wounds are healing nicely, Major," Miss Nightingale said to him quite matter-of-factly some weeks after his arrival, "and the fever has receded. But you are dying. You know that, don't you?"

For all the care she showed her patients, she was not a woman to mince words. Major Lord Tavistock only just stopped himself from telling her to go to hell. She was a lady after all.

"Only you can heal yourself the rest of the way," she said. "Your real wounds are ones I have no skill with, nor the surgeons either.

You cannot forget all the killing?" Her voice was suddenly gentle, understanding.

"I killed my brother," he told her with closed eyes.

She did not answer him for a long time, and he did not open his eyes to see if she had moved away.

"I do not know how literally you mean that, Major," she said. "Do you have a wife? Or a mother and father? Or any family? Anyone to grieve for you when you are dead? Is it not self-indulgent to die when you might live?"

When he finally opened his eyes, she was gone.
About Florence Nightingale the Britannica has:
Nightingale led an officially sanctioned party of 38 women, departing October 21, 1854, and arriving in Scutari at the Barrack Hospital on November 5. Not welcomed by the medical officers, Nightingale found conditions filthy, supplies inadequate, staff uncooperative, and overcrowding severe. Few nurses had access to the cholera wards, and Nightingale, who wanted to gain the confidence of army surgeons by waiting for official military orders for assistance, kept her party from the wards. Five days after Nightingale’s arrival in Scutari, injured soldiers from the Battle of Balaklava and the Battle of Inkerman arrived and overwhelmed the facility. Nightingale said it was the “Kingdom of Hell.”
Nightingale herself wandered the wards at night, providing support to the patients; this earned her the title of “Lady with the Lamp.” She gained the respect of the soldiers and medical establishment alike.
I guess the conversation between "Florence Nightingale" and the wounded hero below the spoiler fits with the above description. "Lady with the lamp" can mean much; a "wise virgin" she probably was.

"O, what a tangled web we weave"
At the beginning of the novel, there is a quote:
O, what a tangled web we weave,

When first we practice to deceive!

--Sir Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott, (1771 -1832) was a Scottish author and novelist. The quote is from the poem Marmion, Canto vi. Stanza 17. see Guthenberg.org or Wikisource and published in 1808 during the larger Regency Era (1795-1837). It is in fact itself a historical romance placed around 1513 and written as a poem. For a summary of the plot see this Wiki. The quote then reminded me of the word "Tangled" appearing in some of the transcripts:
November 23, 1996
(T) What is wrong with my computer?

A: Offset files. Tangled web, being fed by incorrect steps to correct. Need to back up all data, then clean drive. Shortcuts won't do it, and it is not as tedious as you think. But not doing it will be! {This suggestion was followed, and worked.}
April 12, 1997
A: Always be vigilant so as not to perceive a tangled web as a neatly constructed loop
October 4, 1997
A: What a tangled web we spin, when we must not let you in.
The last one comes closest, but the others are not without relevance.

Love and war
This book was on so many level very tangled indeed beginning with how even to find a copy, but also the plot on its own, and how I reacted to it. There was a scene so funny I laughed out loud, as I have not laughed in a while, and others that were different. The theme of love complicated by war strikes a chord, or is it a whole long drawn sad melody in a minor key? To elaborate on the allusion of "minor key", I'll quote this page:
While major scales have their place in the joyful, the bright, and the hopeful, minor keys are the mastermind behind the music that tears at your heartstrings.
Even if this particular novel is a Victorian romance novel, many of the Regency Romance novels have themes related to gain and loss as a result of participation in a war. Examples could be The Survivor Series or the Web of Love by Mary Balogh which many others have commented on. One way of looking at war and love is that when a soldier goes to war, there is the obvious risk of being forever separated from loved ones, but even if the soldier survives then how will he continue living with the physical and psychological trauma. Apart from the concern of the soldier and his family and friends, there is also the other side of a battlefield or conflict. When a soldier kills or injures someone as a result of what he/she is asked to do, then established relationships are upset among those whom the soldier is fighting against. There are losses on both sides though, at the same time, there are also new relations being formed, and from this perspective, it all becomes very complex. Contemplating the complexity of what happens on both sides of a war, is a bit like zooming out from a unit, the solider, to the whole global society involved. Will awareness of a global perspective help me to understand and feel the characters of the next romance novel involving love that was complicated by war?

Some of the complications in war are not brought about by what the soldiers are asked to do, but by what they choose to do in particular situations. This is also evident in this story; it is what makes it so tangled.
 

thorbiorn

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Can you explain way you think that will be good for me?
If you choose not to continue your series, which you still may do, then what about short series or a standalone where you do not feel committed to a long series of books? Mary Balogh has a few duos for instance and even if her novels can be ripping, she also tends to give supportive comments through her secondary characters, at least in some of the books.

When I began this project I recalled reading the book Women Who Run With Wolves which has stories with commentary. This memory resurfaced when reading the first book in Mary Balogh's Bedwyn Prequel, One Night For Love where the heroine is a pretty instinctive and spontaneous woman, and rather a contrast to the heroine of the second book who is more like a master of cool analytic intellect. Though they both become more whole through the novels, they retain their uniqueness. The Bedwyn prequel is a gateway to the Survivor series and a few others.

There is also Elisa Braden who prefaces the chapters in "I read Ever Yours, Annabelle: Rescued from Ruin Prequel" which I read when it was a standalone, with pithy comments which at least for some chapters leave a hint about what is to happen.

Anne Campbell also has a standalone, Untouched, which I would read before her Son of Sins series which is six books all counted, in case you do not like her. Though Untouched is gloomy, even scary at places, before it lightens up at the end.

In general, I find it very supportive to read the posts in this thread, though I am a bit worried it will eventually grow beyond the length of the Corona thread, which by now has more than 1130 pages, because then I will have to give up reading them all. At any rate, one can always check a book or author by using the search function to learn more about what others experienced reading a particular author or book. You might try words like light, heavy, funny, humor/humour, sad, awful, harrowing, difficult, easy, wonderful or beautiful to see what books have merited which adjectives, and one could add trauma and scenes, though these are nouns, but all depending on where you would like to explore or perhaps postpone until later. Of course one can also add the names of particular forum members if one wishes to sift through a large amount of data.
 

hlat

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Can you explain way you think that will be good for me?
Gracie's books have a sense of humor, the Merridew Sisters is a good series, and you already read book 2 The Perfect Waltz. Also, it'll be an interesting experiment to see if any of the books impact you more or less. For example, book 3 The Perfect Stranger was the least interesting to me out of the 4 books, but it was Laura's favorite.
 

Darek

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There are three more books in Polish by Eloisa James
series : The Wildes of Lindow Castle - Zakochani do szaleństwa
Wilde in Love - Zakochani do szaleństwa
Too Wilde to Wed - Zbyt szalony na męża
Born to be Wilde - Szalone pocałunki

Thanks marek760. The uptaded list below:

Anna CampbellSons of Sin
1​
Seven Nights in a Rogue's BedSiedem nocy z rozpustnikiem
Anna CampbellSons of Sin
2​
A Rake's Midnight KissPocałunek rozpustnika
Caroline LindenWagers of Sin
1​
My Once and Future DukeMój raz na zawsze książę
Eloisa JamesThe Wildes of Lindow Castle
1​
Wilde in LoveZakochani do szaleństwa
Eloisa JamesThe Wildes of Lindow Castle
2​
Too Wilde to WedZbyt szalony na męża
Eloisa JamesThe Wildes of Lindow Castle
3​
Born to be WildeSzalone pocałunki
Grace BurrowesTrue Gentlemen
1​
The Duke's DisasterPorażka księcia tom1, Porażka księcia tom2
Julia QuinnBridgerton Series
1​
The Duke and IMój książę
Julia QuinnBridgerton Series
2​
The Viscount Who Loved MeKtoś mnie pokochał
Julia QuinnBridgerton Series
3​
An Offer From A GentlemanPropozycja dżentelmena
Julia QuinnBridgerton Series
4​
Romancing Mr. BridgertonMiłosne tajemnice
Julia QuinnBridgerton Series
5​
To Sir Phillip, With LoveOświadczyny
Julia QuinnBridgerton Series
6​
When He Was WickedGrzesznik nawrócony
Julia QuinnBridgerton Series
7​
It’s In His KissMagia pocałunku
Julia QuinnBridgerton Series
8​
On The Way to the WeddingŚlubny skandal
Julia QuinnRokesby Series
1​
Because of Miss BridgertonWszystko o pannie Bridgerton, czyli jeden pocałunek
Julia QuinnSmythe-Smith Quartet
1​
Just Like HeavenJak w niebie
Julia QuinnSmythe-Smith Quartet
2​
A Night Like ThisTylko ta noc
Julia QuinnSmythe-Smith Quartet
3​
The Sum Of All KissesWszystkie nasze pocałunki
Julia QuinnSmythe-Smith Quartet
4​
The Secrets of Sir Richard KenworthySekrety małżeństwa
Mary BaloghBedwyn Prequel
1​
One night for loveNoc miłości
Mary BaloghBedwyn Prequel
2​
A Summer to RememberNiezapomniane lato
Mary BaloghDark Angel Series
1​
Dark Angel/Lord Carew's BrideMroczny anioł
Mary BaloghThe Ideal Wife/Stapleton-Downes
1​
The Ideal WifeIdealna żona
Mary BaloghFour Horsemen trilogy
1​
IndiscreetNiedyskrecje
Mary BaloghFour Horsemen trilogy
2​
UnforgivenNie do przebaczenia
Mary BaloghFour Horsemen trilogy
3​
IrresistableZauroczeni
Mary BaloghSignet Regency Romance
2​
Christmas BelleGwiazdka
Mary BaloghThe Heartless/Silent Melody duo
1​
HeartlessBez serca
Mary BaloghThe Heartless/Silent Melody duo
2​
Silent MelodyPieśń bez słów
Mary BaloghThe Huxtable Quintet
1​
First Comes MarriageNajpierw ślub
Mary BaloghThe Huxtable Quintet
2​
Then Comes SeductionPotem uwodzenie
Mary BaloghThe Huxtable Quintet
3​
At Last Comes LoveW końcu miłość
Mary BaloghThe Huxtable Quintet
4​
Seducing an AngelUwieść anioła
Mary Balogh
1​
The Secret PearlTajemnicza perła
 

thorbiorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
In light of the last C’s session about sharing reading and learnings, I’ve decided to share something.
There is one thing about the male characters that hasn’t permeated any new understanding for me , yet. I’m hoping I’ll get there.
I find it incredulous that the men love these women so deeply. I feel like it is the most foreign thing to me. Intellectually I understand men as being capable of loving but my lived experience is not this. I have a total cognitive dissonance in this matter when I’m reading these stories.
I’m totally lost with it, I’ll just keep reading I guess. I feel like I have lived with a broken heart my entire life.
Thank you for sharing. Your idea about continuing to read appears as a good strategy. Perhaps little by little your heart will find healing and what appears incredible will become less incredible. Below I have taken different angles to think about "incredulous that the men love these women so deeply". Maybe what I will write is included within your words "Intellectually I understand men as being capable of loving" probably a lot. I sense a lot of pain within "I’m totally lost with it, I’ll just keep reading I guess. I feel like I have lived with a broken heart my entire life." I apologize if I have completely missed it. if that is the case, maybe someone comes along in three years and finds something. Who knows?

Considering and choosing a working hypothesis
Knowledge often develops by stating a working hypothesis, gathering data and analyse if the data provides evidence for or against the working hypothesis.
In this case, a working hypothesis might be something like:
'It is possible "that the men love these women so deeply."'
If one does not consider that a starting point to one's liking, then one could begin with the opposite:
'It is not possible "that the men love these women so deeply."'

I was a bit biased when I began this post, so I wrote a few paragraphs in case one would wish to evaluate the first one, but I have also made comments along the way to accommodate the second choice. I don't go too seriously into the arguments, it is more a collection of possibilities and perspectives one might take into consideration.

Working hypothesis: 'It is possible "that the men love these women so deeply."'
One could imagine, what kind of love that might be, if one takes a philosophical or psychological angle. In the novels as well as in real life, distinctions are made between the love among friends, between intimate lovers, family members etc. Psychology Today in the section about RELATIONSHIPS, has an article that goes into the forms of love recognized by the Greeks:
These Are the 7 Types of Love ... and how we can ignore the most available and potentially fulfilling types. by Neel Burton M.D Posted Jun 25, 2016 | Reviewed by Lybi Ma [Article revised on 27 April 2020.]
Most of us seem to be hankering after romantic love. But few of us realize that, far from being timeless and universal, romantic love is a modern construct that emerged in tandem with the novel.
In Madame Bovary (1856), itself a novel, Gustave Flaubert tells us that Emma Bovary only found out about romantic love through "the refuse of old lending libraries".

...were all about love and lovers, damsels in distress swooning in lonely lodges, postillions slaughtered all along the road, horses ridden to death on every page, gloomy forests, troubles of the heart, vows, sobs, tears, kisses, rowing-boats in the moonlight, nightingales in the grove, gentlemen brave as lions and gentle as lambs, too virtuous to be true, invariably well-dressed, and weeping like fountains.

But there are, of course, many other ways to love. By preoccupying ourselves with romantic love, we risk neglecting other types of love that are more stable or readily available, and that may, especially in the longer term, prove more healing and fulfilling.
The Ancient Greeks had several words for love, enabling them to distinguish more clearly between the different types.

I’m now going to guide you through seven types of love, each with a name from Ancient Greek.
These seven types of love are loosely based on classical readings, especially of Plato and Aristotle, and on JA Lee’s 1973 book, Colors of Love.
1. Eros
Eros is sexual or passionate love, and most akin to the modern construct of romantic love. In Greek myth, it is a form of madness brought about by one of Cupid’s arrows. The arrow breaches us and we "fall" in love, as did Paris with Helen, leading to the downfall of Troy and much of the assembled Greek army.

In modern times, eros has been amalgamated with the broader life force, something akin to Schopenhauer’s will, a fundamentally blind process of striving for survival and reproduction. Eros has also been contrasted with Logos, or Reason, and Cupid painted as a blindfolded child.
2. Philia
The hallmark of philia, or friendship, is shared goodwill. Aristotle believed that a person can bear goodwill to another for one of three reasons: that he is useful; that he is pleasant; and above all, that he is good, that is, rational and virtuous. Friendships founded on goodness are associated not only with mutual benefit but also with companionship, dependability, and trust.

For Plato, the best kind of friendship is that which lovers have for each other. It is a philia born out of eros, and that in turn feeds back into eros to strengthen and develop it, transforming it from a lust for possession into a shared desire for a higher level of understanding of the self, the other, and the world. In short, philia transforms eros from a lust for possession into an impulse for philosophy.

Real friends seek together to live truer, fuller lives by relating to each other authentically and teaching each other about the limitations of their beliefs and the defects in their character, which are a far greater source of error than mere rational confusion: they are, in effect, each other’s therapist—and in that much it helps to find a friend with some degree of openness, articulacy, and insight, both to change and to be changed.

3. Storge
Storge ["store-jay"], or familial love, is a kind of philia pertaining to the love between parents and their children. It differs from most philia in that it tends, especially with younger children, to be unilateral or asymmetrical. More broadly, storge is the fondness born out of familiarity or dependency. Compared to eros and philia, it is much less contingent on our personal qualities.

People in the early stages of a romantic relationship often expect unconditional storge, but find only the need and dependency of eros, and, if they are lucky, the maturity and fertility of philia. Given enough time, eros tends to mutate into storge.
4. Agape
Agape ["aga-pay"] is universal love, such as the love for strangers, nature, or God. Unlike storge, it does not depend on filiation or familiarity. Also called charity by Christian thinkers, agape can be said to encompass the modern concept of altruism, as defined as unselfish concern for the welfare of others.

Recent studies link altruism with a number of benefits. In the short-term, an altruistic act leaves us with a euphoric feeling, the so-called "helper’s high". In the longer term, altruism has been associated with better mental and physical health, and even greater longevity.
At a social level, altruism serves as a signal of cooperative intentions, and also of resource availability and so of mating or partnering potential. It also opens up a debt account, encouraging beneficiaries to reciprocate with gifts and favours that may be of much greater value to us than those with which we felt able to part.

More generally, altruism, or agape, helps to build and maintain the psychological, social, and, indeed, environmental fabric that shields, sustains, and enriches us. Given the increasing anger and division in our society, and the state of our planet, we could all do with quite a bit more agape.


5. Ludus
Ludus is playful or uncommitted love. It can involve activities such as teasing and dancing, or more overt flirting, seducing, and conjugating. The focus is on fun, and sometimes also on conquest, with no strings attached.
Ludus relationships are casual, undemanding, and uncomplicated, but, for all that, can be very long-lasting. Ludus works best when both parties are mature and self-sufficient. Problems arise when one party mistakes ludus for eros, whereas ludus is, in fact, much more compatible with philia.

6. Pragma
Pragma is a kind of practical love founded on reason or duty and one’s longer-term interests. Sexual attraction takes a back seat in favour of personal qualities and compatibilities, shared goals, and "making it work".
In the days of arranged marriages, pragma must have been very common. Although unfashionable, and at a polar opposite of romantic love, it remains widespread, most visibly in certain high-profile celebrity and political pairings.

Many relationships that start off as eros or ludus end up as various combinations of storge and pragma. Pragma may seem opposed to ludus, but the two can co-exist, with the one providing a counterpoint to the other. In the best of cases, the partners in the pragma relationship agree to turn a blind eye—or even a sympathetic eye, as with Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, or Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson.

7. Philautia
Philautia, finally, is self-love, which can be healthy or unhealthy. Unhealthy self-love is akin to hubris. In Ancient Greece, people could be accused of hubris if they placed themselves above the gods, or, like certain modern politicians, above the greater good. Many believed that hubris led to destruction, or nemesis.

Today, "hubris" has come to mean an inflated sense of one’s status, abilities, or accomplishments, especially when accompanied by haughtiness or arrogance. Because it does not accord with the truth, hubris promotes injustice, conflict, and enmity.
Healthy self-love, on the other hand, is akin to self-esteem, which is our cognitive and, above all, emotional appraisal of our own worth. More than that, it is the matrix through which we think, feel, and act, and reflects on our relation to ourselves, to others, and to the world.

In everyday language, "self-esteem" and "self-confidence" tend to be used interchangeably. However, self-esteem and self-confidence do not always go hand in hand. In particular, it is possible to be highly self-confident and yet to have profoundly low self-esteem, as is the case, for example, with many performers and celebrities.

People with healthy self-esteem do not need to prop themselves up with externals such as income, status, or notoriety, or lean on crutches such as alcohol, drugs, or sex. They are able to invest themselves completely in projects and people because they do not fear failure or rejection. Of course, they suffer hurt and disappointment, but their setbacks neither damage nor diminish them. Owing to their resilience, they are open to growth experiences and relationships, tolerant of risk, quick to joy and delight, and accepting and forgiving of themselves and others.

In closing, there is, of course, a kind of porosity between the seven types of love, which keep on seeping and passing into one another.
For Plato, love aims at beautiful and good things, because the possession of beautiful and good things is called happiness, and happiness is an end-in-itself.
Of all good and beautiful things, the best, most beautiful, and most dependable is truth or wisdom, which is why Plato called love not a god but a philosopher.

Neel Burton is author of Heaven and Hell: The Psychology of the Emotions and other books.
For similar articles one could try:
The 8 Different Types of Love + the Perfect Combo for You prepared by a company.
The 7+ Types Of Love You’ll Probably Experience In This Life from thoughtcatalogue.com which also includes a list of 12 forms described with usual English words.

Moving beyond a discussion of how may words and types of love there might be, or if love even exists, there is another article from Psychology Today that goes into describing symptoms of love that shares similarities with that which might be found between partners: This Is How You Know It's Love Defining love can help you figure out if you're in love.

Leaving space for the materialist and postmodernist
If one seriously doubts the possibility of deep love from men, then one could go the route of adopting Darwinism, Neo-Darwinism or materialism along the lines of Richard Dawkins and his book The Selfish Gene. There is a whole thread that discusses this and related questions Darwin's Black Box - Michael J. Behe and Intelligent Design
Perhaps also a few postmodernists could advance arguments that deep love does not exist. They might favour the idea that love is a social construct, a word invested with meaning by people whose brains only exist because of a Big Bang a few billion years ago, and that love on its own has no objective existence. Honestly, I don't know what they would say, but there are a few threads on related subjects like
Challenging Postmodernism: Philosophy and the Politics of Truth - David Detmer
Explaining Postmodernism by Stephen Hicks
And Google Scholar also has a few articles or links like:
Postmodern Love: Questioning the Metaphysics of Desire
Or look into what passes off for a postmodern historical romance:
Fragmentation in Postmodern Novels

Love and research
Leaving the area of philosophy and psychology one could look into brain research to see if there is any evidence of what love might be and how it might express itself:
Men and women process emotions differently This may be important to intellectually understand why men and women at time misunderstand each other, but perhaps not surprising considering that the physiologies are different and react differently.​

Finally, there was this video which appears to cover several areas: Love, Reality, and the Time of Transition

The last four links were found on SOTT, but if one searches for "love" on SOTT, there are 2500+ article out of which probably a few dozens will be really good!

Ideas for a discussion of which working hypothesis is better
We had initially two options for a working hypothesis:
It is possible "that the men love these women so deeply."
or:
It is not possible "that the men love these women so deeply."

One could spend time arguing over which might be the better idea, "that the men love these women so deeply." or not, and eventually conclude to one's satisfaction. What conclusion one reaches, will, I think, depend a lot on the general view of creation and man that one accepts. Alternatively, one could leave this discussion for now, and consider that since these novels deal with the hurts and trauma of people and if reading and following the internal dialogues of these novels may help us to process similar or resonating types of trauma withing ourselves, then the reading of the recommended romance titles might assist emotional healing and the reassemblage of the shards of varying degrees of broken hearts. If we can also agree that emotional health is beneficial for nourishing, friendly relationships, which again are a good basis for hurting others less, then what has one got to lose, even if one hesitates to believe "that the men love these women so deeply."? In short, happy reading!
 

istina

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
I found online Croatian translation of the book „Seven nights in a rouge bed“ after I‘ve read original one - it was awful!!! Like someone just put it through translator with no emotions or anything, completely out of the „spirit“ of the language.... I‘ve read first page and was turned down. So, I don’t know of the quality of the other books but that was my (only) experience with these books in our native language.

Also I’ve searched to buy some books for my godmother who loves romanse novels and i.e. couldn’t find any of the M.Balogh books to buy on Cro online book stores.
I do hope that some exist in libraries because IMO she is a must read heavy category of this project....
"Seven Nights ..." and another book by the same author, and some books by Mary Balogh, Jennifer Ashley, Julia Quine, Eloise James, you can find here:

Anna Campbell i njegova djela - Knjižara Ljevak

Mary Balogh

Julia Quinn i njegova djela - Knjižara Ljevak

Jennifer Ashley - Naklada Neptun

 
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istina

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
"Seven Nights ..." and another book by the same author, and some books by Mary Balogh, Jennifer Ashley, Julia Quine, Eloise James, you can find here:

Anna Campbell i njegova djela - Knjižara Ljevak

Mary Balogh

Julia Quinn i njegova djela - Knjižara Ljevak

Jennifer Ashley - Naklada Neptun

Some of these books are not books that are on our list, and the translated title is sometimes not the same as the original, so it should be compared to the default on our list.
 
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