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Love and Lies

An Essay on Truthfulness, Deceit, and the Growth and Care of Erotic Love

Clancy Martin


Love and Lies Download image

ISBN10: 1250081572
ISBN13: 9781250081575

Trade Paperback

272 Pages



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Is it possible to love well without lying? At least since Socrates’s discourse on love in Plato’s Symposium, philosophers have argued that love can lead us to the truth—about ourselves and the ones we love. But in the practical experience of erotic love—and perhaps especially in marriage—we find that love and lies often work hand in hand, and that it may be difficult to sustain long-term romantic love without deception, both of oneself and of others.

Drawing on contemporary philosophy, psychoanalysis, and cognitive neuroscience, as well as his own personal experience and such famed and diverse writers on love as Shakespeare, Stendhal, Proust, Adrienne Rich, and Raymond Carver, Clancy Martin—himself divorced twice and married three times—explores how love, truthfulness, and deception work together in contemporary life and society. He concludes that learning how to love and loving well inevitably requires lying and further argues that the best love relationships draw us slowly and with difficulty toward honesty and trust.

Love and Lies is a relentlessly honest book about the difficulty of love, which is certain to both provoke and entertain.


Praise for Love and Lies

"[A] spirited attack on standard notions of romantic love . . . Love and Lies is a delight to read. Martin is erudite without being pedantic . . . Love and Lies offers a sophisticated, sometimes overly sophisticated, defense of long-term monogamy."—Michael Washburn, The Boston Globe

"[Martin] does some exacting analysis of love and deception in literature. There’s Proust, Joyce’s 'Araby,' Shakespeare (a sonnet and Much Ado About Nothing), Turgenev’s Woldemar, and Raymond Carver’s 'symposia,' What We Talk about When we Talk about Love."—Amy Pence, The Rumpus

"Martin has concocted a book he describes as part memoir, part psychoanalytic analysis, part philosophical argument and part literary criticism drawing on greater and lesser works from the likes of Chekhov, Shakespeare, Proust, Stendhal and Raymond Carver. It’s a book that will reward a reader’s close attention and perseverance—no checking your Twitter feed on this one . . . Some of Martin’s best work comes in his exploration of loving and lying in literature, as he moves from a surprising exegesis of Pinocchio, linking the long-nosed fibber’s tales with Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s notion of 'the living truth,' to Carver’s influential story 'What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,' in which four boozy and heart-bruised lovers present a spectrum of hopes and fears about 'carnal love, romantic love, the day-to-day caring about the other person.' Most illuminating is Martin’s treatment of Don Quixote, summed up in what he calls the novel’s great lesson: 'We cannot love without the imagination, without projecting ourselves and our lover into a realm that stands far beyond the pedantry of everyday ordinary fact.' As Martin amply demonstrates in his own book, we are all Quixotes in love."—Chris Tucker, The Dallas Morning News

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt

1. A Brief Introduction to the Morality of Deception

These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

An heart that deviseth...

About the author

Clancy Martin

Clancy Martin is the author of the novel How to Sell (FSG, 2009) as well as many books on philosophy, and has translated works by Friedrich Nietzsche, Søren Kierkegaard, and other philosophers. A Guggenheim Fellow, he is a contributing editor at Harper's Magazine and also writes for The New York Times, London Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, GQ, The Atlantic, and many other publications. He is a professor of philosophy at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, where he lives with his wife, the writer Amie Barrodale, and three daughters.

© Greg Martin

Clancy Martin

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