Books: Liebestod

LOVE IN THE WESTERN WORLD —Denis de Rougemonf—Harcourf, Brace ($3).

Swiss Philosopher de Rougemont's ambitious thesis is that Europe and the Western Hemisphere owe their desperate plight to their over-susceptibility to passionate love. Ancient Greeks and Romans, says he, regarded love as a mental aberration, an unqualified misfortune; Orientals so regard it today. Only in the Western world has it taken a hold in the mores, been accorded respect. Taking Tristan and Iseult as the archetypes of passion, he hangs on their necks more weight than Freud ever hung on Oedipus.

Immediate ancestors of the Tristan myth were the troubadours of Provence. They...

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