Letters of a Portuguese Nun: Thirty Two Questions on Love

I have been enjoyed reading Letters of a Portuguese Nun: Uncovering the Mystery Behind a 17th Century Forbidden Love by Myriam Cyr (click here to read my first entry about this book).

In the book, Cyr includes a section titled, Thirty Two Questions on Love.

These questions were passed around in the salons of 17th & 18th century France for guests to read and then debate. These questions, along with other questions or points, and literature, related to the human condition, were the topic of discussion and debate by the intellectuals of the time.

I found them interesting and worth disscussing so I have included them here:

  1. Is it better to lose a person we love to death or to infidelity?
  2. Is it better to have free access to a person we love, but that does not fully return our love, or to be perfectly loved by someone who is not free to see us?
  3. Is greater jealousy a sign of greater love?
  4. Is desiring a “thing” more delicious than owning it?
  5. Is the union of two hearts the most appreciable and greatest pleasure in life?
  6. Are love and desire two opposite feelings?
  7. Can we love someone who loves another?
  8. Can we stop loving a person who does not fully return our love?
  9. If a woman breaks off with a man she loves on a whim, for the sake of more freedom without loving anyone else, if she wants to get back together, should the man accept?
  10. Should two people who love each other tell each other their suspicions of jealousy without the use of coldness and ill humor?
  11. If a lover is jealous without reason, should the partner make it real, even if others talk?
  12. Is the love of a girl (virgin) more violent than that of a woman?
  13. What is the lesser crime in love, to be refused or not dare to ask?
  14. Can love survive on its own for very long?
  15. Can we love for love’s sake without expectations?
  16. Can we love something more than ourselves?
  17. Is the trouble free pleasure of not loving as pleasing as love itself?
  18. Which kind of love is more delicious, that of a girl, or a married woman, or of a widow?
  19. What kind of love is more agreeable: that of a virtuous woman, or of one that is less than virtuous?
  20. Can an honest man, without compromising his sense of ethics, avenge himself on a woman who was unfaithful?
  21. What is the greater crime? To publicly boast of actual favours given by a woman, or boast of invented favours from a woman who gave none?
  22. Can a man, who is secretly loved by a woman, insult a rival who does not know he has one?
  23. Can a man be as passionate about a woman whom he knows has loved before, than a woman who has never loved at all?
  24. Does a woman insult the man she loves by seeking help from another man?
  25. Should a woman hate a man she loves who does not consent to help her, knowing he is otherwise engaged?
  26. Is it reasonable for a woman to ask for details of a previous affair before she gives marks of affection to a man, and should the man comply?
  27. If a man received gifts from a woman, should he return them if she decides to leave him and asks for them?
  28. Should a man ask for personal gifts that can be recognized by others from someone he loves and if he leaves, should he keep them, return them, or burn them?
  29. Should a woman give a man she loves personal gifts, when he asks for some?
  30. Which is better, to win a woman through her heart or her intelligence?
  31. If a man knows a woman he loves wants to leave him, should he let her go freely after having told her politely that he knows her designs, or should he keep her by threatening to cause a scandal?
  32. Should a man ever cause insult or displeasure to a woman he loved, for any reason whatsoever?

by the Marquis de Sourdis , circa 1660
For the Salon Madeleine de Souvre, Marquise de Sable


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