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Translated from the French by Anthea Bell
According to Plato, fools do not strive for the beautiful and the good, for divine bliss, because they are satisfied with themselves. The wise do not strive for it either because they already have those things. Only the people in between, half-way between fools and the wise, you and I and all the others waiting patiently here in a traffic jam for the next green light, are vulnerable to the arrow of Eros.
On Love and Death is a witty and inspiring meditation on the erotic link between the two great forces of human existence.
Patrick Süskind provocatively draws on scenes as contemporary as a young couple having oral sex while stuck in traffic, as literary as Thomas Mann’s discovery of forbidden love in his seventies, and as mythical as the stirring tales of death conquered through love in the narratives of Orpheus and Jesus.
‘Like other contemporary European essayists such as Milan Kundera, Patrick Süskind is unapologetically highbrow. Stendhal, Socrates, Plato and Ovid are his touchstones. The myth of Orpheus venturing into the underworld to plead for the life of his wife Eurydice is considered far superior, as an example of love, to a real young man and woman observed by Süskind pashing in a car. His point…is powerfully made…Not a word is wasted in this seductive meditation.’
‘Patrick Süskind is arguably one of the greats of our time… On Love and Death is…a wonderfully constructed vision of love found through death. Always intense and philosophical, but Süskind is in a league of his own.’