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Love's Work

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  169 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Love’s Work is at once a memoir and a work of philosophy. Written by the English philosopher Gillian Rose as she was dying of cancer, it is a book about both the fallibility and the endurance of love, love that becomes real and lasting through an ongoing reckoning with its own limitations. Rose looks back on her childhood, the complications of her parents’ divorce and her ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published May 31st 2011 by NYRB Classics (first published January 1st 1993)
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Fionnuala
This book is like a cross section of a landscape, solid rock compressing more porous deposits as upheaval follows upheaval beneath the earth’s surface.

The author doesn’t use that exact image but this memoir is nevertheless layered with the tough and the tender. Her father’s name was Stone, and in an act of rebellion at age sixteen, she went to a considerable effort to change her name from Stone to Rose, the name of her new step-father, making her, according to the birth certificate people, a ch
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K.D. Absolutely
Jul 12, 2014 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2012)
An unforgettable tour of the soul.

There are books that talk to the heart. There are those that speak to the mind. This book, being both memoirs and philosophical talk to both and it challenges the way we view death and life, like the former actually being part of the latter. It illuminates the comedy of life and the tragedy highlighted by philosophy and the resulting inseparability of the two.

Gillian Rose died in 1995 and while dying, she was able to write and publish this book. Rose was a profe
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Declan
Oct 26, 2012 Declan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: nyrb
It is not until page 78, approximately half way through the book, that Gillian Rose discloses the circumstance in which the book is being written:

"If I were to explain that, in my early forties, I have cancer, say, advanced ovarian cancer, which has failed to respond to chemotherapies, and is spread throughout the peritoneum, the serous membrane lining the cavity of the abdomen, and in the pleura, the serous lining of the lungs, you would respond according to the exigencies of taxonomy, symbol
...more
Natalie
I devoured this little book last night in one hit. Whilst reading it, I felt as though all of my senses had been pricked to this kind of stinging, such is Gillian's prose, so incredible is her mind. I think everybody should read this diamond.
Katie
Written while the author is dying from ovarian cancer, this book is as much philosophy as it is memoir. I read it with a dictionary and a pencil, and it seemed like I needed one or the other on every page. Full of lovely little snippets, deeply insightful, unflinchingly honest in her dissection of her life. Some of the chapters seem disjointed to me, and it never seems unified to me, but that is easily forgiven, and probably indicative of the author not finding unity at the end of her life.

"If I
...more
Deanne
Written when the author was dying of cancer, the book discusses love and death. The different types of love we all experience.
Her description of her treatment is factual but also makes me wonder how hard was it for her to write.
Catherine
The language in this was a stumbling block. I have a wide passive vocabulary, have met academics who talk like Gillian Rose, and didn't need a dictionary to understand individual words, but the sheer number of obscure terms in many of the paragraphs made it slow going and added to the feel of it being a series of unconnected reflections on events from the author's life. I didn't get any sense of progression, any reason why the sections were organised as they were and paused for some light distra ...more
Becky
I feel bad for really not taking more from this short meditation on life and death. Written as she was dying from cancer, Gillian looks back at some of the challenges she faced through her life, dyslexia and education, her lovelife, her Jewish faith, and tries to derive some sense of meaning from these experiences as she faces her final days. I wanted something to touch me, but I think I've read too many books from this list, as even in this short space of time it felt like too much devotion to ...more
Harold Miles
I think this may be the worst-edited book I have on my shelves: the muddle of an undeleted and contradictory preposition in the third line is a sign of things to come, and the regular linguistic confusion and unintentional ambiguities left in Rose's text are a distraction from a wide-ranging story with many points of interest.

Putting that aside, the text wanders around a bit, with more or less interesting notes along the way, until it takes its autobiographical protagonist into the world of sexu
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Edward
Rose, a British philosopher who died at age 48 of ovarian cancer, has written a jagged memoir of her short life. It’s jagged in that it glances from one shard, or aspect, of her life to another, in only loosely chronological order – her tortured Jewish relationship with her parents, her interest in modern philosophy, holocaust implications , relationships with her lovers, and fusing all of these, her reaction to her cancer and imminent death.

Of her mother who was so traumatized by fifty members
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Mike
notes:
epigraph: "Keep your mind in hell, and despair not." - staretz silouan, 1866-1938
12..What vain posturing!..Enticed to preen ourselves as "consultants".
...the man in the corridor, tall and angular, with a gaunt, beak-like visage, he seemed to bear accumulated suffering with majesty, as if generations of poverty and loss had pared away all excess to reveal without guise his true nature.
24..family photos..from every available space, photographs of her five children listed tenderly toward her
3
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David
Rose demands the reader make leap after leap of thought in this intense work of philosophy that uses the material of her life to examine love in many forms. Again and again I went to consult my dictionary rather than pass over words with guesses at their meaning from context, because individual words often carry a lot of weight in this book. I come out of it feeling curiously emptied of thought — except the one thought, that I must re-read this book again soon.
Gail
‘However satisfying writing is - that mixture of discipline and miracle, which leaves you in control, even when what appears on the page has emerged from regions beyond your control - it is a very poor substitute indeed for the joy and the agony of loving.'
Fan Wu
If you take the mediation between--on one hand, the autobiographical, the subjective, and the particular; and on the other, the philosophical, the aphoristic, and the universal--as a virtue, then Rose's book, which performs this mediation with a stunning calm, will move you.
and
"The only paradises cannot be those that are lost, but those that are unlocked as a a result of coercion, reluctance, cajolery and humiliation, their thresholds crossed without calm prescience, or any preliminary perspicacity"
Tiffany
Masterfully written by a beautiful mind. Very few philosophers have as successfully transitioned from dense scholarly writing to poetic prose that still conveys the density of thought as Rose. If you struggle to negotiate the path of extremes in life and don't know why, read this book and discover that you aren't the only one. This book along with Martha Nussbaum's Love's Knowledge have both profoundly influenced my own thought and writing style.
Georgia
Difficult read. Not compelling enough to think about what every difficult sentence meant. I will take with me a line to remember which is "You may be weaker than the whole world but you are always stronger than yourself."
A.J.
A work, simply, of the most painful, cathartic profundity.
Masha
The gem of this book is chapter 5.
Jamey
Touching. Grim and touching.
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NYRB Classics: Love's Work, by Gillian Rose 1 4 Oct 28, 2013 11:53AM  
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“The work equalises the emotions, and enables the two submerged to surface in series of unpredictable configurations. Work is the constant carnival; words, the rhythm and pace of two, who mine undeveloped seams of the earth and share the treasure.” 1 likes
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