‘A ravishing, celebratory and funny history of the human heart. Disarming, canny and beguiling, it deserves to become a cult book.’ Independent
‘There is a universal human fascination with the heart which no other organ has inspired – not the brain, not the eyes. The heart is simply a lump of muscle, a pump, and yet it is the home of love, and courage, and religion, and soul, and almost any other human feeling you care to think of.’
This is Louisa Young’s starting point, and she goes on to produce a book that is readable, erudite, funny, intriguing, stimulating and made to be given, from the heart, as a gift. The book is in four parts (like the heart): The Physical Heart; The Religious Heart; The Heart in Art; and The Written Heart. The first part covers, amongst other things, anatomy and the history of ideas about how the heart works; weaknesses of the heart and disease; surgery and transplants; and other animals’ hearts – the heart as the seat of life. The second has the Bleeding Heart of Christ; pagan sacrifice; saints’ attributes; the heart in Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism etc – the heart as the seat of the soul. The third looks at votive art, the ‘heart/fruit thing’; sublimated visual hearts; kitsch; advertising and logos; cartoons – the heart as visual symbol. The fourth explores expressions of love in literature, from the Greeks’ musings on eros and agape via myths and legends and the invention of courtly romance to the romantic novel; also song lyrics – the heart in writing.
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‘As intriguing and delightful as an afternoon spent rummaging through a well-stocked secondhand bookshop. An eclectic, colourful and often personal array of images of the human heart through history, for those who love cultural trivia.’ Observer
‘Wonderfully eclectic. Young’s range of reference is enormous and she is breezily at ease with it, moving nimbly from Burt Bacharach to Jeremiah in one sentence. The book is beautifully produced, there are numerous pictures, some startlingly strange, many beautiful. But although the book looks like a box of chocolates, and offers correspondingly assorted and delicious satisfactions, it is harder-centred than it appears. Young’s commentary on her material is astute and illuminating.’ Lucy Hughes-Hallett, Sunday Times
‘“The Book of the Heart” makes emotive reading. It entranced me, and caused a lifestyle revolution. While reading it, I stopped using salt or butter, gave up booze, started jogging and, for the first time ever, started making doting daily phone calls to my Significant Other, hundreds of miles away. This ambitious book could so easily be pretentious, but instead remains disarming, canny and beguiling. It is like Jack Horner's dream of a Christmas pie: wherever you put in your thumb, you will dig out the juiciest of plums.’ IndependentFrom the Back Cover:
'Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.'
How come St Valentine had nothing to do with love and romance? Why did Richard the Lionheart want his heart and his bones buried thousands of miles apart? How did Plato's image of the heart having 'chambers' lead to mediaeval nuns having mystic visions of wedding Christ in sacred bedchambers? Look into The Book of the Heart and see: it is a treasure-chest brimming with bright jewels. It is rich in meaning in a time quick to be heartless. From the scientist's heart of disease and transplants to the artist's heart of string and arrows, from the symbolic heart of roses and maps to the religious heart of sacrifice and sutra, LOUISE YOUNG stitches together a book of the heart that is utterly entrancing and enjoyable. With a perspective that encompasses the wisdom of the West and the East, of the ancient and the modern, this is a book, like the heart. About giving and for giving.
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Book Description Flamingo, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0007109113