17 March 2011
Love and Marriage
From Love, etc. by Julian Barnes.
Love and Marriage. The Anglo-Saxons have always believed that they themselves marry for love, while the French marry for children, for family, for social position, for business. No, wait a minute, I am merely repeating what one of your own experts has written. She - it was a woman - divided her life between the two worlds, and she was observing, not judging, not at first. She said that for the Anglo-Saxons marriage was founded on love, which was an absurdity since love is anarchic and passion is sure to die, and that this was no sound basis for marriage. On the other hand, she said, we French marry for sensible, rational reasons of family and property, because unlike you we recognise the necessary fact that love cannot be contained within the structure of marriage. Therefore we have made sure that it exists only outside of it. This, of course, is not perfect either, in fact in some ways it is equally absurd. But perhaps it is a more rational absurdity. Neither solution is ideal and neither can be expected to lead to happiness. She was a wise woman, this expert of yours, and therefore a pessimist.