Author Q&A About Love: Eloisa James

  • February 28, 2012

A Q&A with the author of The Duke is Mine.

Eloisa James is the author of the The Duke is Mine.  Eloisa is a Harvard graduate and professor of Shakespeare at Fordham University in New York. Her most recent books have been based on fairy tales, including Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. She was inspired to write these retellings by her father, the poet Robert Bly, and his study of the fairy tale Iron JohnThe Duke is Mine riffs off of The Princess and the Pea and is a story of love, lies, and one very uncomfortable mattress.

About Love, The February Q&A

Look what we owe to Shakespeare…

If music be the fruit of love, play __________________ (what would you most like to hear?)

Leonard Cohen’s “Dance me to the end of love.”

What is the greatest love prose you’ve ever read?  Who wrote it?  Please quote a few lines?

Shakespeare gave a few brief lines about love to Shylock, in the midst of a play that depicts lovers casually trading rings given them by their beloveds.  This is from Act III.i, when Shylock is being told that his daughter Jessica is extravagantly spending the money and jewels she stole from him:

Tubal:  One of them show’d me a ring that he had of your daughter for a monkey.

Shylock:  Out upon her!  Thou torturest me, Tubal.  It was my turquoise, I had it of Leah when I was a bachelor.  I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys.

When I think of love—and the talismans that pass between lovers—I always remember the ring that wouldn’t have been given away, even for a wilderness of monkeys.

Shylock speaks mostly in prose, by the way, not blank verse.  III.i.118-123.

Is your imagination of love, your ability to write about it – greater than your experience?

No.  I’m in a deeply happy marriage.  It takes imagination to re-live the fever of falling in love over and over; without experience it might be impossible.

Have you ever fallen for a character? Who?  How does he or she compare to the real love of your life?

Falling for characters is an occupational hazard.  This year I wrote my first book, The Duke is Mine, with two heroes, one of whom (Rupert), was brain damaged at birth.  He lived his fictional life enthusiastically, bravely, and lovingly—and entirely in the present.  He was also a very great poet, although he could speak only in partial sentences.  I do love Rupert, though he has little in common with my Dante professor husband.

What are the words that you can’t imagine ever being associated with love?

There aren’t any.  Unfortunately.

With a nod to Yeats – If “love comes in at the eye, it goes out at the toes.”

Does love have its own language?

Only if laughter is a language.


I want this book: Politics & Prose OR

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