'Love: more than pursuit, less than perfection,' writes Debotri Dhar in her
introduction to this book, and reminds us that love/desire is as much art as
accident, and as full of light and clarity as it is of darkness and confusion. In
the twelve essays that comprise this thoroughly engaging, eclectic collection,
scholars, critics, storytellers and journalists examine some of the myriad aspects
of this emotion-its 'complexities, in-betweenness'; its 'being and becoming'.
In the opening essays, we get a historical and cultural perspective on
'traditional love' through discussions of 'swayamvara, arranged marriages, and
desi romance'; ruminations on the immortal love of Radha and Krishna; and
the story of a sexually desiring and desired courtesan or nagarvadhu. In the
essays that follow, the politics of love is discussed and debated from a variety
of angles: from the love jihad campaign against inter-religious marriage, to a
critique of the savarna gaze in Indian cultural iconography and its meaning for
inter-caste love; from India's legal battle to decriminalize same-sex love, to
the subversive threat in single women's self-love.
The book also includes intriguing and exquisite portrayals of love in
literature-from Urdu shayari and the barahmasa (songs of longing for the
twelve months of the year), to the city fictions of love through Rome, Sydney,
Buenos Aires, Istanbul and Delhi.
With essays by some of the most distinctive writers of our time, this
delightful, wide-ranging volume certainly suggests that love is not just a word.