Book Title/Author:Letter to D: A Love Story by Andre Gorz
Publisher/Year Published:Polity Press, 2009
How I got this book:I bought it
Why I read this book:The inner romantic in me!
“You’re 82 years old. You’ve shrunk six centimetres, you only weigh 45 kilos, yet you’re still beautiful, graceful and desirable. We’ve lived together now for 58 years and I love you more than ever. I once more feel a gnawing emptiness in the hollow of my chest that is only filled when your body is pressed next to mine.”
These are the opening lines of ‘Letter to D’, a remarkable letter that the famous French philosopher Andre Gorz wrote to his wife Dorine as she lay on her deathbed. Andre Gorz was married to his wife for fifty-eight years, and he wrote this letter to her in an attempt to truly understand his relationship with Dorine, and how his life has been changed by it. In September 2007, Andre and Dorine took their own lives. Neither wanted to live without the other.
The letter begins by describing how Andre and Dorine met in France in 1947. He was enchanted by the beautiful, English-born Dorine, and he instantly fell in love with her. Eventually he worked up the courage to ask her out, and they instantly became inseparable. He describes the qualities that attracted him to her; her quick wit, her intellect, her confidence, and how he could completely forget himself around her. Like any relationship, things didn’t always run smoothly, and she said she would break up with him as he wasn’t certain about marriage. In that instant, he realized that he could not be without her, and they got married.In the early days of their marriage, money was scarce and they did what they could to make ends meet. Eventually things began to look up when Andre got a job editing a daily evening paper. As the years went by, their marriage began to change also. Dorine no longer let herself be challenged by the “intellectual arrogance” of her husband, and began to question his ideas and put forward her own. Her confidence in her own views grew. He recognised that she was always right, and he loved her even more. As the years went by, they eventually moved to the French countryside. Dorine was diagnosed with arachnoiditis and cancer, and her health rapidly declined. Gorz retired from work and focused entirely on what was most important in his life: his wife. The letter ends with Gorz stating that he does not want to live without her. On the 6th of June, 2006, Andre and Dorine took their own lives. They couldn’t bear to be separated.
This is one of the most touching books I have ever read. With divorce rates so high, it’s pretty incredible to see that is actually possible for two people to stay in love for almost sixty years. It was never meant to be published; Gorz wrote this letter for his wife only, which gives it a raw honesty. It was fascinating to read the complex relationship that Gorz had with his wife, and also with himself. I expected that I would feel sad at the end when I read of their deaths. I didn’t at all. They were incredibly lucky to experience such love, and I Instead I found myself rejoicing that love can last, that falling and staying in love is actually possible. It is a truly wonderful book.