by Amy and Leon Kass
Review #1 by Laura Taylor Hayashi
These days I am often seen carrying a huge book. No, it is not a Harry Potter book. This is a book I enjoy so much that after 750 pages I have slowed down, not wanting to finish it.
As an advocate of marriage and courtship in our present society, I have found such deep fellowship in “Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar” by Amy and Leon Kass. They co-teach a class at the University of Chicago about courtship and marriage. The bulk of the book is selections on this topic from a diverse range of very good writers and thinkers. The quality of the selections, as well as the range of specific aspects and viewpoints fluctuates between astonishing to humorous to very thought provoking. Many writers I had thought I had known, and enjoyed a new insight into their consciousness. I actually cried at aspects of the courtship of Emile by Rousseau. Charles Darwin’s observations were a surprise and very thoughtful as well.
It seems that the Kass have a long marriage and partnership, which adds another dimension to their comments, introductions, and own essays which are presented. They are wise teachers as most authors are left to speak for themselves, with our interest roused by their guidance on the questions each of us may ask about the selections.
Many comments were about the loss of passion, Figures of literature observed this as well as social scientists. A story develops which paints a picture of true, sustaining passion in our culture which has historically been presented as a reachable ideal, but now has become almost incomprehensible to a generation caught up in the uncertainties of divorced parents and a disbelief in the possibility of lasting love. For me, this was very reassuring. I was reminded of my “friends” who think more as I do. The triviality of thought which is present in so much contemporary life was exposed in the light of truly great, historic thought. The underlying fear that accompanies casual sexual liaisons, though currently paraded about in popular media as a noble “freedom of choice”, was exposed through these selections as a paltry choice for the vitality to be found in a relationship steeped in mutual self esteem and trust.
Most of these writers seemed to have no illusions that they were themselves living in any such ideal. But most absolutely felt that to reach for any less was almost sub - human. I was very intellectually and romantically inspired however, by the depth of thought and love in their comments. Many seemed much happier and in fact, enriched through their experiences with marriage. This fits with my personal hopes. I think no one has ever embarked on a first love thinking about how to split up the possessions. Certainly, it would not sell at the bookstores!
So this very mystique of our constant longing for a lasting love, for a transcendence which comes from being swept away from our daily lives and own consciousness in an overwhelming “romance” where we truly live for the other was explored. The question raises itself, why had this endured despite the dismal statistics and seeming impracticability of achievement? We are left to bring the final answers ourselves, the only place where they can truly be answered. It is a theme of the book that the endurance of these ideals lies in the fact that the goal itself is so much more worthy of each of us than the passionless answers which seem to lie within the overindulgence of the merely physical aspects of sexual love and liaison. The recalling of aspects of the marital partnerships of these great people which has changed their own lives gives so much hope that we, too, can warm ourselves near the hearth of marital happiness..
This is such a useful resource for anyone to maintain this hope in an age often so disparaging of any permanence in lasting love. It is also an excellent resource book for the education of young people on how to raise their ideals and continue to strive to achieve them. This book makes it seem possible! A great read.
Laura Taylor Hayashi
The only faithfulness which is lovable ......before God, and one's (spouse), and the estate of marriage...is not to deny the miracle." Soren Kirkegaard
Laura Taylor Hayashi, PO 173832 Hialeah FL 33017,