UPDIKE AND LOVE IN THE WESTERN WORLD. De Rougemont takes what he calls the “one great European myth of adultery—the Romance of TRISTAN AND ISEULT” as his starting point. Tristan and Iseult sleep beside each other with a sword between them to prevent adulterous consummation of their love. De Rougemont uses the sword between the lovers to represent all the barriers that can prevent consummation. I first encountered LOVE IN THE WESTERN WORLD in a review by John Updike in the New Yorker many years ago. Updike thought the book important, but said he had had one doubt about the thesis when he first read the book. It occurred to him, as a novelist, that the barriers between the lovers are useful plot devices, that conflicts and difficulties make stories interesting. But Updike said in his review that he had changed his mind. He had found confirmation of de Rougemont’s argument everywhere since he had read De Rougemont’s book.

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