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Past Valve Book Events

cover of the book Theory's Empire

Event Archive

cover of the book The Literary Wittgenstein

Event Archive

cover of the book Graphs, Maps, Trees

Event Archive

cover of the book How Novels Think

Event Archive

cover of the book The Trouble With Diversity

Event Archive

cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

Event Archive

cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

Event Archive

The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

Alphonso Lingis talks of various things, cameras and photos among them

Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

Philosophy, Ontics or Toothpaste for the Mind

Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

john balwit on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on That Shakespeare Thing

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dear Alan Rickman: Will You Be My Valentine Voice?

Posted by Rohan Maitzen on 02/13/10 at 06:26 PM

Love it or hate it, you can’t avoid it: tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and I thought we here at The Valve could do a little to make sure its literary quality is as high as possible. In aid of that, here is a great idea from the Times: sign up here to have your beloved sent a great poem read by a great voice. Offerings include Dame Judi Dench reading Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” Helen Mirren reading Anne Bradstreet’s “To My Dear and Loving Husband” and (even better) Emily Dickinson’s “Wild Nights,” Ian McKellen reading “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love,” and Alan Rickman reading Robert Herrick’s “Delight in Disorder"--all more seductive and delicious than chocolate.

Meanwhile in the Globe and Mail, a parade of contemporary writers identify their own favourite love story. Wuthering Heights makes its inevitable appearance: novelist Elizabeth Abbot calls it “the gold standard for literary romance.” Surely not! Some of the other choices are more surprising and many are wholly unfamiliar to me: Jane Urqhuart, for instance, recommends William Trevor’s Reading Turgenev, which she describes as “short, dark, evocative and very moving,” and T. F. Rigelhof speaks up for C. S. Richardson’s The End of the Alphabet, the story of a couple who “discover more to love at the end than anticipated at the beginning.”

Do you have a favourite romantic poem or story? I would vote for e.e. cummings’s “it may not always be so; and i say,” along with “i carry your heart,” as two of my own favourites, as well as the ecstatic conclusion to EBB’s Aurora Leigh:

But oh, the night! oh, bitter-sweet! oh, sweet!
O dark, O moon and stars, O ecstasy
Of darkness! O great mystery of love,–
In which absorbed, loss, anguish, treason’s self
Enlarges rapture,–as a pebble dropt
In some full wine-cup, over-brims the wine!
While we two sate together, leaned that night
So close, my very garments crept and thrilled
With strange electric life; and both my cheeks
Grew red, then pale, with touches from my hair
In which his breath was...

And in prose, though in other ways my preferences lean away from Jane Austen, it’s hard for me to fault the ending of either Pride and Prejudice or Persuasion for sheer romantic gratification.


Even as a youngster I found the Earl of Rochester’s “Song of a Young Lady to Her Ancient Lover" bizarrely moving (certainly beats Philip Roth), and what do you know, it’s on YouTube.

For prose valentines, I’d be tempted to send Djuna Barnes’s Ladies Almanack ‘cause it’s such a pretty little thing.

My favorite rom-coms are still Congreve’s, although I wouldn’t kick Lubitsch out of bed.

My idea of romance might be a bit eccentric, considering my current relationship reached melting point while listening to Daniel Johnston songs. But I’m still not crazy enough to call any Bronte novels romantic.

By Ray Davis on 02/13/10 at 08:20 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Nice, but:  please read the poems yourselves:  there is nothing worse than hearing a Famous Actor overread poetry....

By on 02/14/10 at 01:18 AM | Permanent link to this comment

Medea’s interior monologue on loving Jason in Ovid’s *Metamorphoses*.

By on 02/14/10 at 04:35 AM | Permanent link to this comment

I especially liked the poem… In which absorbed, loss, anguish, treason’s self
Enlarges rapture,–as a pebble dropt..

By James Hawk on 05/12/10 at 11:53 AM | Permanent link to this comment

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