The Enduring Kiss: Seven Short Lessons On Love by Massimo Recalcati

The Blurb On The Back:

The kiss is the image that, perhaps more than any other, encompasses the beauty and poetry of love.  Every love is required to maintain the kiss, to make it last.  When they kiss, the noise of the world is silenced, its laws broken, time is stolen from its normal continuity.  They fall together in their distinct, embraced tongues.  The kiss joins the tongue that declares love with the body of the lover.  And the extinction of the kiss and, most importantly, of the desire to kiss one’s beloved announces the demise of love.

In this short book, Massimo Recalcati – one of Italy’s leading intellectuals and bestselling authors – offers seven brief lessons on the mystery and miracle of love, from the serendipity of the first encounter to its end or its continuation over time, as mysterious and miraculous as the fist encounter itself.  

You can buy THE ENDURING KISS: SEVEN SHORT LESSONS ON LOVE by Massimo Recalcati from Amazon USA, Amazon UKWaterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Massimo Recalcati is a psychoanalyst and author who teaches at Pavia and Verona universities.  This masculine look at love (translated from Italian by Alice Kilgarriff) draws heavily on Roth, Freud and Lacan and is written in an intellectual, pretentious style that alienated me.  However, it is an offshoot from an Italian TV series called Lexicon of Love and I wonder if it would be more accessible with sounds and images to support its points.

The book is divided into 7 sections: The Promise, Desire, Children, Betrayal And Forgiveness, Violence, Separations and Enduring Love and Recalcati wants to give a flavour of what each of these means and involves to try and explain (to the extent possible) what love means.  

Recalcati investigates his subject very much from the male perspective – there isn’t much consideration here of what desire means for women and he doesn’t cite any female thinkers or writers in support of his opinions.  This is particularly noticeable in his examination of Children, which I found quite trite in terms of its views of sacrifice, oedipal urges and how it can undermine desire.  Similarly, his look at violence was (to me) distasteful, particularly his argument that violence is in someway connected to women not knowing what it means to be a woman.

The style of writing is self-consciously intellectual with Recalcati throwing in references to Lacan, Roth, Freud and Sartre willy nilly.  If you’re familiar with their work then you may get more from this than someone like me, as my knowledge is cursory.  However I think the book also suffers from essentially being an off-cut or by-product from a documentary and I can see that some of Recalcati’s points would work better if narrated over images and sounds that helps illuminate and explore his ideas.

Ultimately, although this is a very short book, I found it difficult to get through and my attention frequently waned such that by the time I got to the end, I didn’t feel that I’d really gleaned much from it to add to my understanding of love at all.  Ultimately, not for me but you’re of a more intellectual bent than me, then this may be worth a try.   

THE ENDURING KISS: SEVEN SHORT LESSONS ON LOVE was released in the United Kingdom on 22nd January 2021.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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