Arts &
Arts Culture Analysis
Vol. 23, No. 3 2024
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Robert J. Lewis
Senior Editor
Jason McDonald
Contributing Editors
Louis René Beres
Nick Catalano
David Solway
Chris Barry
Don Dewey
Howard Richler
Jordan Adler
Andrew Hlavacek
Daniel Charchuk
Music Editors Serge Gamache
Diane Gordon
Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Jerry Prindle
Chantal Levesque Denis Beaumont
Emanuel Pordes

Past Contributors
Noam Chomsky
Mark Kingwell
Naomi Klein
Arundhati Roy
Evelyn Lau
Stephen Lewis
Robert Fisk
Margaret Somerville
Mona Eltahawy
Michael Moore
Julius Grey
Irshad Manji
Richard Rodriguez
Navi Pillay
Ernesto Zedillo
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
Jean Baudrillard
Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Nayan Chanda
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

what the poets say about



Nick Catalano is a TV writer/producer and Professor of Literature and Music at Pace University. He reviews books and music for several journals and is the author of Clifford Brown: The Life and Art of the Legendary Jazz Trumpeter, New York Nights: Performing, Producing and Writing in Gotham , A New Yorker at Sea,, Tales of a Hamptons Sailor and his most recent book, Scribble from the Apple. For Nick's reviews, visit his website:


Few subjects have preoccupied writers as much as romantic love. There are many kinds of love but you know what I’m talking about and are acquainted with the most famous love stories.

Although the love between Haemon and Antigone must have been intense because they both committed suicide, Sophocles, in  Antigone (441 BC,)  is not  particularly interested in their relationship  because he has a different story to tell, so we don’t know what went on with them. The story of Pyramus and Thisbe has a Babylonian origin and is treated by such luminaries as Ovid, Boccaccio, and Chaucer, but the myriad mysteries that characterize the intensity of Romantic love in the modern sense are not dealt with much. Deep emotional/ psychological connections between people is a difficult subject. 

In Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard’s brilliant film, Shakespeare in Love, Queen Elizabeth claims that the true nature of romantic love has been missed by poets who treat it humorously, satirically, sleazily etc. We need to remind ourselves that Queen Bess had amazing literary knowledge and tastes. Actually, she was the first to recognize great dramatic art when she granted James Burbage the first license to open a theater in 1576.

In a powerful scene, our heroine in the film Viola,  De Lesseps challenges Queen Elizabeth to say that there is one playwright who has succeeded in creating the depths and breadth  of a great love. 

Actually, Shakespeare structures Romeo and Juliet so successfully that writers ever since have included elements of his formula. He establishes the theme of romantic love immediately in Act 1 as  Romeo emotes wildly over his girl friend Rosaline causing comic  nausea in his pal Mercutio.

Shakespeare’s  formula is to have a lover obsessively referencing  his present romance  before he meets his great love, in this case, Juliet. Romeo constantly gushes about Rosaline  with his pal Mercutio as they plan to have some  fun by secretly planning to crash a party given by The Capulets - archenemies of the Montagues, Romeo’s family. But when he espies Juliet we have have before us the most famous incident of love at first sight.  

He instantly abandons his thoughts of Rosaline and astounds the audience with the amazing depth of his feelings for Juliet.

This suddenness is accompanied by a highly sophisticated greeting with Juliet who matches Romeo with clever sophistication. The exchange is articulated in a famous sonnet which illustrates the romantic nature of both characters. And after this warm flirtation ends Romeo kisses Juliet. Thus the bard immediately establishes the “manage of the minds” requirement of great love that he writes of as the great essence of true romance in his sonnet 116 and also reveals the lovers instant sexual  passion for each other.

This formula descends down through the ages. No matter the creative form, play, novel, drama, movie or TV series this formula dominates great love stories. Artistic creators don’t have much time to develop the depth of a great romance and Shakespeare’s formula solves the time problem. 
In modern films dealing with romantic love of some depth, we see Shakepeare’s formula continuously adopted. In Gone With the Wind Scarlett has gone years with a mistaken notion of romantic love. In Casablanca Ilsa has avoided it out of loyalty as has Lisa in An American in Paris. In Captain Corelli’s Mandolin -- a wartime saga love story which succeeds  in portraying a deeper romance  -- we have Pelagia 'in love' with Mandras only to discover an obsessive truer love (à la Romeo) with Corelli.

Switching gears for a moment,  we can turn to the first act of Puccini’s La Boheme and see an even deeper variation. Here, Rudolpho and Mimi give up high aesthetics for each other: Rudolpho for poetry and Mimi for love of nature. Once again, there isn’t much time to develop this 'marriage of the minds' attraction but in Puccini’s genius aria, "Che Gelida Manina," Rudolpho Immediately,  passionately falls for Mimi. And she quickly returns her love with equal intensity in "Mi Chiamo Mimi."  Interestingly, unlike the creative resources available in movie technology, it is the great music that sweeps us without question into their instant romance. 

 Once the marriage of the minds formula becomes successful in great art works, various creators begin dealing with the myriad complications generated by the variety and complexity of romantic love; themes dealing with endless searching, mysterious irony, psychological convolution, and human suffering. 

In Virgil’s Aeneid we are introduced to 'unrequited' love and the  suffering of Dido. Through myths and national literatures,  we witness the tragedy of  'adulterous' love in Dante’s Paola and Francesca. Dante, whose catholicity demands  their endless suffering, actually sobs as he connects with their humanity.  Ovid’s  Metamorphosis , Boccaccio’s Decameron, and Chaucer’s Tales all deal with the conspicuous challenges undertaken by women committed to 'marriage of the minds' simply because of their sex. The Arthurian legend constantly returns to the themes of adulterous love in works from Mallory’s Morte d’Arthur to Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot

Modern literature deals more and more with psychological  love issues and reaches an apotheosis of sorts in Albee’s Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Despite the avalanche of literary and artistic efforts to portray some feature of romance, the subject perpetually receives criticism and even condemnation from some critics. Awhile back in Arts & Opinion I  referenced Percy Shelley’s moving poem "The Indian Serenade"  which deals with the irrational intensity of romance. One of the last century’s most famous  critical texts, Theory of Literature,  Rene Wellek condemns the poem because its intensity is ,for him, sentimental and immature. It is a reaction which has been articulated through the centuries by many writers who have never experienced anything near such deep emotionalism and therefore dismiss it as unreal.


I arise from dreams of thee 
In the first sweet sleep of night,
When the winds are breathing low, 
And the stars are shining bright: 
I arise from dreams of thee, 
And a spirit in my feet 
Hath led me—who knows how? 
To thy chamber window, Sweet! 

The wandering airs they faint
On the dark, the silent stream—
The Champak odours fail
Like sweet thoughts in a dream; 
The Nightingale's complaint,
It dies upon her heart;— 
As I must on thine, 
Oh, belovèd as thou art!
Oh lift me from the grass! 
I die! I faint! I fail! 
Let thy love in kisses rain
On my lips and eyelids pale. 
My cheek is cold and white, alas!
My heart beats loud and fast;— 
Oh! press it to thine own again, 
Where it will break at last. 

There are, of course, endless differential  experiences possible in intense romantic love , and in future essays we will try to deal with more of them.



Susan Steiger

By Nick Catalano:

The Disappearance of Language
Paddy Cheyefsky
George Lucas - An Appreciation
Sarah Vaughan: The Divine One
Hell on the High Seas
A Producer Remembers
World War I: Armistice and Artists
The Masters: Standup Comedy pt. II
On Standup Comedy pt. I
My Times with Benny Goodman
Higher Education and the Future of Democracy
Faith, Emotion and Superstition versus Reason, Logic and Science
Thinking: A Lost Art
Alternative Approaches to Learning
Aesthetic History and Chronicled Fact
Terror in China: Cultural Erasure and Computer Genocide
The Roller Coaster of Democracy
And Justice for All
Costly Failures in American Higher Education
Trump and the Dumbing Down of the American Presidency
Language as the Enemy of Truth
Opportunity in Quarantine
French Music: Impressionism & Beyond
D-Day at Normandy: A Recollection Pt. II
D-Day at Normandy: A Recollection Pt. I
Kenneth Branagh & Shakespeare
Remembering Maynard Ferguson
Reviewers & Reviewing
The Vagaries of Democracy
Racism Debunked
The Truth Writer
#Me Too Cognizance in Ancient Greece
Above the Drowning Sea
A New York Singing Salon
Rockers Retreading
Polish Jewry-Importance of Historical Museums
Sexual Relativity and Gender Revolution
Inquiry into Constitutional Originalism
Aristotle: Film Critic
The Maw of Deregulated Capitalism
Demagogues: The Rhetoric of Barbarism
The Guns of August
Miles Ahead and Born to Be Blue
Manon Lescaut @The Met
An American in Paris
What We Don't Know about Eastern Culture
Black Earth (book review)
Cuban Jazz
HD Opera - Game Changer
Film Treatment of Stolen Art
Stains and Blemishes in Democracy
Intersteller (film review)
Shakespeare, Shelley & Woody Allen
Mystery and Human Sacrifice at the Parthenon
Carol Fredette (Jazz)
Amsterdam (book review)
Vermeer Nation
The Case for Da Vinci's Demons


Comedy Podcast with Jess Salomon and Eman El-Husseini
Bahamas Relief Fund
Film Ratings at Arts & Opinion - Montreal
fashion,brenda by Liz Hodson
Festival Nouveau Cinema de Montreal(514) 844-2172
Montreal Guitar Show July 2-4th (Sylvain Luc etc.). border=
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