The love of words
“The first love, you love harder, the others, you love better.” The quote, whose content leaves space for debate, belongs to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of the acclaimed The Little Prince – a book that might as well be part of this list. Because here, what’s essential is not knowing which love you like the most, nor the one you like best. Here, the most important thing is to explore every path and every way that could ever help us get closer to this weird, magical thing, frightening and quintessential, that is love.
WUNTHERING HEIGHTS, by Emily Brontë, Penguin Classics (2015), € 23.
WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT LOVE, by Raymond Carter, Vintage Classics (2009), € 5,90.
NORMAL PEOPLE, by Sally Rooney, Faber and Faber (2019), € 12,50.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, by André Aciman, Atlantic Books (2017), € 11.
ARTISTS IN LOVE: FROM PICASSO & GILOT TO CHRISTO & JEANNE- CLAUDE, A CENTURY OF CREATIVE AND ROMANTIC PARTNERSHIPS, by Veronica Kavass, Rizzoli (2016), € 23.
THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER, by Junot Díaz, Riverhead Books (2013), € 13.
COLLECTED POEMS, by W. H. Auden, Modern Library (2017), € 40.
ANDY WARHOL. LOVE, SEX, AND DESIRE, by Andy Warhol, editado por Michael Dayton Hermann, Taschen (2020), € 75.
AMOR DE PERDIÇÃO, by Camilo Castelo Branco, Book Cover Editora (2020), € 4,95.
THE COURSE OF LOVE, by Alain De Botton, Hamish Hamilton (2016), € 17,96.
ROMEO AND JULIET, by William Shakespeare, Penguin Classics (2015), € 10,90.
ON LOVE, by Charles Bukowski, Ecco (2017), € 15.
THE GREAT GATSBY, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Scribner (2004), € 8.
ANNA KARENINA, by Leo Tolstói, Random House (2017), € 16,75.
THE INVISIBLES: VINTAGE PORTRAITS OF LOVE AND PRIDE. GAY COUPLES IN THE EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY, by Sebastien Lifshitz, Rizzoli (2014), € 12.
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, by Jane Austen, Penguin (2019), € 8.
OS MAIAS, by Eça de Queiroz, Livros do Brasil (2020), € 11,10.
O AMOR É FODIDO, by Miguel Esteves Cardoso, Porto Editora (2016) € 16,60.
CEM ANOS DE SOLIDÃO, by Gabriel García Márquez, Dom Quixote (2017), € 18,90.
TWENTY LOVE POEMS AND A SONG OF DESPAIR, by Pablo Neruda, Jonathan Cape (2004), € 13,05.
The love of (moving) pictures
Almost all great love stories start like this: “Once upon a time…” The end, which is a product of fate, depends on a bunch of ingredients that escape all reason and understanding. Both leading characters may manage to overcome all barriers and end up living their “happily ever after”. In the majority of cases, they don’t. However, not even that averts us from constantly looking for movies that make our heart beat faster, and believe that love, when it rises, it’s for everyone.
“I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” It’s quite possible that, for a good part of our readers, the speech recited by Harry Burns (played by Billy Crystal) in When Harry Met Sally (1989), is easily recognisable. This romantic comedy, that wrapped up the 80's with a bang, is much more than a sunday afternoon chick-flick – it represents, and on this subject both the critics and general public agree on - one of the greatest reflections the seventh art as given us on the matter of love, and that fact can’t be alienated from Nora Ephron’s role as a screenwriter. But let’s dive into that monologue again. Tears in your eyes? Chills down your spine? Quite possibly so. The twist that wraps up this story by Rob Reiner has entered directly into the category of the most iconics of all time, alongside some of the most powerful scenes in cinema, such as the endings, despite tragic, of Titanic (1997) or Atonement (2007). The history of cinema is filled with stories just like these, those that release butterflies in our stomach – that touch something inside of us. Starting from the beginning, with Modern Times (1936) and the unforgettable Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard as the couple who, in the name of an apparently doomed love story, overcome all obstacles in pursuit of a happy ending. Followed, with no room for error, by the mismatches of Casablanca (1942), that’ll break every cinema addict's heart every time Rick (Humphrey Bogart) walks into the fog, away from Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), and by From Here to Eternity (1953), whose iconic beach scene, where Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr kiss passionately, was censured on the grounds of being “too erotic”, up until we reach the agony of An Affair to Remember (1957), whose plot spurs a feeling of melancholy even amongst the most apathic of beings, and the love versus hate latent in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), where Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman fuel sparks amidst a broken marriage.
The same could be said about Cleopatra (1963), the epic that brough Taylor and Burton together, on the silver screen and in real life, or Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (1964), Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, a musical about a smitten couple that constantly misses each other – and one of the responsible features that ascended Catherine Deneuve as the ultimate cinema diva. The plot twist, whether in tone and shape, came with Love Story (1970), possibly the saddest narrative on love that the 70's gave us, and consequently, the biggest punch in the stomach of everyone who, at the time, left the theaters feeling absolutely deranged by its outcome. If you haven’t seen it, please do stock up your tissues beforehand. Lots of them. And since this is the decade of Annie Hall (1977), why not overlap Manhattan (1979) as a beautiful love story? After all, both have the signature of one of the biggest infatuated cynics of all time, the master, Woody Allen. In fact, it’s always a hard task, nearly impossible, to choose among “the best of the best”, because according to many, Dirty Dancing (1987) represents the ultimate masterpiece when it comes to romance, and the same could be said for Ghost (1990). Is it a coincidence that both pictures have Patrick Swayze in the leading role? And if for some believers out there Richard Linklater’s trilogy, Before Sunrise (1995-2015), is a love anthem, for others it’s impossible to top the beauty of In the Mood for Love (2000), the tortuous silence of Brokeback Mountain (2005), or the permanent illusion of Her (2013). If there’s time, and now we might have too much of it in our hands, it’s important to go over and add a couple of more: Romeo + Juliet (1996), because Shakespeare and Baz Luhrmann are the best possible combination, Notting Hill (1999), because it’s a classic and forever will be, 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), because everyone needs a good rom-com, One Day (2001), because it’s a good alternative to the David Nicholls novel, The Notebook (2004), because we all have a cheesy side, or (500) Days of Summer, because not of us is immune to heartbreak – and, let it be known, we’re talking big ones. Let’s end this the way we started, with a bang. With the powerhouses Love (2015), the Gaspar Noé’s masterpiece, the unavoidable Loving and Paterson, both of 2016, and the disturbing Marriage Story (2019). No, they weren’t happily ever after, and that is as painful as it is real – love has to be real in order to be love. Ok, we’ll allow the re-watch of Love, Actually (2003), but just because Christmas and because we’re, literally, stuck at home.
The love of music
There are hundreds of online lists that are presumptuous enough to try and decide which are the biggest love songs of all time. As if it were possible to overrule what makes our heart beat this way, or not, to the chords of a guitar, as soon as we hear the echo of the first verses of a song. In the face of the impossibility of compiling all love songs ever made, we chose, humbly, some of them.
It's the fourth track of the album A Night At The Opera, released in 1975 by the British rock band Queen. Love Of My Life, written by Freddie Mercury in homage to Mary Austin, with which he had a romantic relationship in the beginning of the 70's, kicks off with tough words (“Love of my life, you’ve hurt me / You’ve broken my heart / And now you leave me / Love of my life, can’t you see?”), that have been repeated thousands, maybe millions of times since – those who’ve never been heartbroken may cast the first stone. The same goes for How Deep Is Your Love, probably the Bee Gee’s most romantic tune, integrant part of the soundtrack of the movie Saturday Night Fever (1977), and for Can’t Help Falling in Love, that Elvis Presley recorded in 1961, and that will be finishing act of the king’s every concert throughout the 70's. And speaking of legends, is there any Beatle’s single that doesn’t address the topic of love, more or less bluntly? Hey Jude, Can’t Buy Me Love, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Love Me Do… The list is as grand as the fab four’s genius. And what to say about The Rolling Stones? Angie, She’s A Rainbow, Love In Vain, Lady Jane… It’s impossible to just pick one. Equally gifted, The Smiths gave us nearly anything that’s possible in musical terms: to name a few, There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, that came to life in 1986, and where, at some point, one can hear, “To die by your side / Is such a heavenly way to die” – and if that’s not a declaration of love, then we officially know nothing about love declarations. The 80's were prodigal when it came to powerful tunes that would shake even the most frigid of hearts. In 1983, Bonnie Tyler became globally well-known with Total Eclipse Of The Heart. Twelve months after, Foreigner unleashed their guitars with I Want To Know What Love is, Stevie Wonder seduced with I Just Called To Say I Love You, and Phil Collins established his solo career with Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now). In 1986, David Bowie surprised the world with the powerhouse that is Absolute Beginners and, in 1987, Roxette exploded, in Sweden, with their It Must Have Been Love, that would come into play in Pretty Woman, three years later.
The website insider.com wrote it down as “the love song that concludes every love song.” Released by Bryan Adams in 1991, (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, is one of the biggest hits of the 1990's, alongside U2’s One, Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You (that is actually an original by Dolly Parton) and Nothing Compares 2 U, by Sinéad O’Connor. A lovely song, indeed. So good, we would risk saying it’s at the same level as singles such as Your Song, by Elton John, or God Only Knows, by The Beach Boys – one of the hist of the 60's, around the time when Percy Sledge, the famous American soul singer, recorded the unforgettable When A Man Loves A Woman. But coming back to that Insider’s decision. Were they perhaps referring to Guns N’ Roses’ November Rain? It’s all a matter of opinion, excuse us, emotions, but just like for many readers, amongst whose this scribe also belongs, by Your Side, by Sade, is a no-brainer, others will think Frank Ocean’s Thinkin About You, The Police’s Every Breath You Take, or Someone Like You by Adele, are equally deserving of a feature in this, and any other, love song list. There are other cases that inspire debate: The Winner Takes It All, by the group Abba, My Heart Will Go On, by Céline Dion, Hold You In My Arms, by Ray LaMontagne, All Of Me, by John Legend. Will leave the final decision on your side. There are suggestions for every preference and for every liking – and disliking. The final themes don’t belong to any hall of fame, but we would challenge any lover of good music to listen to them just once: Exile, the brand new duet between Bon Iver and Taylor Swift that would goosebumps even to the cobblestone on the sidewalk; Harvest Moon, by Neil Young, and At Last, by Etta James, two masterpieces that spare all introductions; Fistful of Love, a wonderful letter of estrangement taken from the equally fabulous album I Am A Bird Now, from the extinct Antony and the Johnsons; Only Love Can Hurt Like This, the cry for revolution with the authorship of Paloma Faith; Strangers In The Night, one of the best love songs by Frank Sinatra. And, before you tune out, recall Nem Às Paredes Confesso, by Amália Rodrigues, A Paixão, by Rui Veloso, Circo de Feras, by Xutos e Pontapés, Por Quem Ainda Não Esqueci, by Sétima Legião, O Sopro do Coração, by Clã, and the irrevocable Carta, by Toranja. Wrap it all up with the golden key, with that epic I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You. Because no best love songs list, as incomplete as it is, will ever come to be without Tom Waits.
The love for others
This year is no different, it’s even more pressing now, more than ever, to help those in need. Our Christmas presents’ list is not urgent, spreading the love, that’s urgent.
There's a feeling of an enormous lack of love, and of empathy, what human beings have that’s good seems to have been forgotten. In a year that has surpassed our imagination’s wildest expectations as to what humanity can endure, we realized that all that matters are health, family, love. To make someone’s day a little better, building a connection, is one of the biggest joys we can achieve. Material goods have become (very) secondary and if there’s something we need to focus on this time of year, is helping others and overdo the best thing we can give each other: love.
Liga Portuguesa Contra o Cancro
When it comes to oncological patients, this entity is crucial at a national level, because its aim is the sensibilization of society to the disease, while contributing towards social support and investigation. The defense of these patients’ rights and providing psychological help are also central objectives. Find out more at: www.ligacontracancro.pt.
The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund is present in more than 190 countries and Portugal is no exception. Their mission is to support children’s development, whilst creating the necessary conditions for it and defending their rights. It’s one of the biggest solidarity organizations at an international level. Find out how to contribute at: www.unicef.pt.
The National Association to Fight Poverty, a non-profit organization, mostly cares for children and the elderly. Their work revolves around the distribution of meals, shoes, clothing, and other essential goods to those in need. This association even has a social canteen in Vila Nova de Gaia, where complete and free meals are given to the homeless and needy. Find out how to help at: ancap.org.pt.
This global movement encompasses more than 150 countries that choose to fight injustice. The job of International Amnesty is widely recognized, both for its role and its success. Founded in 1961, it takes part in the fight against the abuse that happens a little all over the world, and it’s one of the biggest organizations in the fight for human rights. Find out how to help at: www.amnistia.pt.
SOS Voz Amiga
It’s a prevention phone-line that provides emotional sustenance to those who are suffering, whether due to depression, anxiety or loneliness. With a professional team specialized in listening, in a completely confidential way, they’re there to support those who need help – while, ultimately, diminishing the suicidal risk. Find out how to help at: www.sosvozamiga.org.
Fundo de Solidariedade para a Cultura
With the pandemic, the cultural sector has suffered enormous losses and several professionals lost their jobs. In Portugal, many movements were created in order to raise awareness towards spectacle theaters that are fighting for their survival, to support the artistic community and reinforce that it’s still safe, and urgent, to consume culture. This is the link to follow in order to keep culture alive: solidariedadecultura.pt.
The campaign created by Missão Continente and the LAPS Foundation has the goal to help the Portuguese families that have been most affected by the COVID-19 crisis. They have an organized network that raises funds in order to feed those who’re suffering. This mission has contributed, to the closing date of this issue, with 150 tones of nourishment goods. Find out how to contribute at: nuncadesistir.continente.pt.
Translated from the original article from Vogue Portugal's Love issue, published in December 2020.