Inkwell joins the IWF homepage in wishing you a happy Valentine’s Day!
Here’s hoping you’re having chocolates and romantic dinner dates tonight instead of attending boring performances of the Vagina Monologues!
As Carrie Lukas reports on the homepage, more than a thousand college and university campuses celebrate this day with activities such as selling vagina lollipops, rituals that in more genteel times we would have regarded as exceedingly vulgar and beyond the pale.
We aren’t the only people urging you to celebrate something more than biology and boorishness today. Also helping to rescue Cupid from feminists, National Review has several charming essays on conservative love stories up today.
NR’s selection, as varied as a box of chocolates, includes this from scholar and author Midge Decter:
“The greatest ‘conservative’ love story is the one that runs through, and completes, Tolstoy’s War and Peace: The story of Natasha Rostow, who at the novel’s beginning is a delicious, high-spirited – and sometimes dangerously foolish – young girl and at its end is no longer a girl but a deepened and settled married woman. On the way, she has in all girlish foolishness placed herself in peril and has thereby also caused great hurt. In the end she marries a man who in his own way has been a seeker, in his case not a seeker after romance but after one or another kind of transcendence. And he, too, settles down with her into a life of rich daily domesticity. While Natasha’s life is proceeding to its proper, and fulfilled, denouement, enormous, murderous disruptions – the “war” in the novel’s title (between Russia and Napoleon) – are going on all around. But Tolstoy, who knew everything there was to know about the human heart, could not deny Natasha her destiny as everyday wife and mother. This is what you might call the true romance.”
And from Christine Rosen, author of “My Fundamentalist Education:”
“‘Conservative romance’ would appear to be an oxymoron, but in fact there are many examples of conservative fidelity. In some cases it is one-sided: Catherine of Aragon’s devotion to Henry VIII is a fine example of marital commitment. After he cast her aside for Anne Boleyn, Catherine, in exile, continued to insist that she was wife, and queen, to Henry. On her deathbed she wrote the ungrateful Henry a tender letter reiterating her commitment. Then there are the couples who preached radical politics but lived fairly conservatively: Fabian Socialists Sidney and Beatrice Webb, for example. In literature, the unconsummated love between Archer Newland and Countess Olenska in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence provides another conservative example: drawn to each other yet limited by restrictive social conventions (and, eventually, Newland’s marriage) the two never do give in to their mutual desire. In the end, of course, the reader is meant to view this as a small tragedy, but for those of a more conservative sensibility, who live in a modern world where self-gratification trumps virtue, it is in some ways more satisfactory to find two people who resist, rather than succumb, to their romantic yearnings – and in the process perform their duty.”
National Review also celebrated Valentine’s Day with a symposium on Men We Love. The inimitable Lucianne Goldberg began her contribution this way:
“The first Valentine I ever sent was in the third grade. Then the only acceptable way to make such a commitment was not to sign it. Looking back, an unsigned mash note probably would have scared any number of eight-year-old boys half to death. Since I can’t be anonymous here, I just want to assure the men I cite that I will not stalk them.”