A Natural History of Love

A Natural History Of Love

—Diane Ackerman

“Love. What a small word we use for an idea so immense and powerful.

It has altered the flow of history, calmed monsters, kindled works of art, cheered the forlorn, turned tough guys to mush, consoled the enslaved, driven strong women mad, glorified the humble, fueled national scandals, bankrupted robber barons, and made mincemeat of kings.

How can love’s spaciousness be conveyed in the narrow confines of one syllable?

Love is an ancient delirium, a desire older than civilization, with taproots spreading into deep and mysterious days.

The heart is a living museum. In each of its galleries, no matter how narrow or dimly lit, preserved forever like wondrous diatoms*, are our moments of loving, and being loved. ”


*dahyuh-tuhms—microscopic, unicellular, marine or freshwater algae


“It drove Ovid to anguise and Stendhal to exquisite suffering. It may be ignited by a sidelong glance or a good head of hair.  To Plato, it was the yearning for a sundered second self.  To some contemporary scientists, it may be a biochemical cocktail of oxytocin and phenylethylamine.  The subject is love, and in her latest book, poet and naturalist Diane Ackerman brings to it all the high-wire erudition and rapturous prose that made A Natural History of the Senses a national bestseller.”

The Book: A Natural History of Love—Diane Ackerman