Quote of the day—”I love you madly”

This post was originally written on 2nd June, 2010.

“I think of the postmodern attitude as that of a man who loves a very cultivated woman and who knows that he cannot say to her, “I love you madly”, because he knows that she knows (and that she knows that he knows) that these words have already been written by Barbara Cartland. Still, there is a solution. He can say, “As Barbara Cartland would put it, I love you madly.” At this point, having avoided false innocence, having said that it is no longer possible to speak innocently, he will nevertheless have said what he wanted to say to the woman: that he loves her, but he loves her in an age of lost innocence. If the woman goes along with this, she will have received a declaration of love all the same.”

– from Umberto Eco’s Postscript to The Name of the Rose (1984). Thank you, my dear, for reminding me this. (He says: “it deserves to be quoted, again and again”.)

10 Responses “Quote of the day – “I love you madly”” →

Gontran [Link]
June 2, 2010
But then, I’m a very big Eco fan, so, I may be biased.

June 2, 2010

June 2, 2010
I am a big fan too!

June 2, 2010

Thanks for sharing this. I hadn’t remembered it from my twenty-five-year old reading of the book. (And it probably wouldn’t have made sense to me then as a fifteen-year-old anyway.)

Shadowy figure
June 3, 2010

The most curious phrase is “if the woman goes along with this”. Because, surely the woman already knows that he lives in an age of lost innocence, and he knows that she knows. It’s an infinite regress if you start thinking about such things too much.

June 3, 2010
Does it make sense to you now, A?

June 3, 2010

Actually, for pretty much all my adult life it has struck me as absurd that people say things like, “I’m madly in love with you” to each other, no matter how true, just because the whole apparatus of romantic love in our society (and most others) has been worked over and over until there is nothing original left of it, and saying such things only serves to emphasize how ordinary and trivial your love is instead of how overwhelming and special it is … so the only thing to do in a postmodern society is to make fun of love while acknowledging that it exists and is the most important thing in our lives. Which I guess is the same thing Eco was saying, only he said it much, much better. I must say, the lovers I have had have had a difficult time understanding my point of view on this matter.

June 8, 2010

Compare what Eco says with a comment made by May Sinclair on Charlotte Brontë in 1912:
“[S]he sinned against the unwritten code that ordains that a woman may lie till she is purple in the face, but she must not, as a piece of gratuitous information, tell a man she loves him; not, that is to say, in so many words. She may exhibit every ignominious and sickly sign of it; her eyes may glow like hot coals; she may tremble; she may flush and turn pale; she may do almost anyway, provided she does not speak the actual words.” — (The Three Brontës, pp. 111-112)

Jonathan Mendelsohn [Link]
July 11, 2010

Folks get all freaked out over those illicit substances that are smoked, snorted or injected, but the drug I most fear cuts the straightest line to your most vital organ. The organ is the heart, the drug is romantic love.

Bob Wood [Link]
July 11, 2010
You can always go Ellington, sophisticated but frank.
Love you madly
right or wrong
sounds like a lyric of a song
But since it’s so
I thought you oughta know
I love you, love you madly.

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