Reading Notebook #33: Marriage Is About Solitude

I have my friend Nath to thank for this, who sent me a book in the mail with no note, only passages highlighted. From Rilke On Love and Other Difficulties:

I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other. … It does not occur to anyone to expect a single person to be “happy,”—but if he marries, people are much surprised if he isn’t! (And for that matter it really isn’t at all important to be happy, whether single or married.) Marriage is, in many respects, a simplification of one’s way of life. … Marriage is … a questioning of the strength of and generosity of each partner and a great new danger for both.

… a good marriage is that in which each appoints the other guardian of his solitude, and shows him this confidence, the greatest in his power to bestow. A togetherness between two people is an impossibility, and where it seems, nevertheless, to exist, it is a narrowing, a reciprocal agreement which robs either one party or both of his fullest freedom and development. But, once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes is possible for each other to see the other whole and against a wide sky!


Posted in Life Philosophy, Love.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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