The best novels about conflict and love

Stig Dalager Author Of Land of Shadows
By Stig Dalager

The Books I Picked & Why

The Odyssey

By Homer, Emily Wilson

Book cover of The Odyssey

Why this book?

I read this masterpiece about the Greek hero Odysseus´ adventurous and very troublesome journey back from victory over Troy, being damned to this by God Poseidon, to his beloved Penelope on his home island Ithaca, many times. I love it for its wonderful language and fantastic episodes in its essence describing the barriers one in life has to transcend for proving one's loyalty in love to one's chosen one. It gives a picture of the matching together of the eternal manly and female powers of earthly existence. Also, it became the inspiration for my seven-volume work, Bridges to the World, of which Land of Shadows is the fourth independent one. Odysseus was punished for his boasting as a war-winner, making hubris, a lot of men could take warnings from this!

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War and Peace

By Leo Tolstoy, Richard Pevear, Larissa Volokhonsky

Book cover of War and Peace

Why this book?

A masterpiece showing me what potential a novel has in both picturing immense war scenarios of the Napoleon war in Russia 1805-1812 and at the same time how war and conflict have a fatal influence on the existence and love life of people through a lot of different and deeply characterized characters of both the idle life of Russian aristocracy. In this context, they are the noblemen Pierre Kirillovitj, Andréj Bolkónskij, and the woman they both love: Natásja. Choosing very different ways – Andréj a military built on honor and Pierre a rebellious and humanistic one – Tolstoy in his portraits shows how the military values tend to exclude love and how the open, rebellious way of Pierre’s seeking for compassion among human beings gives room for deep love and is the strong one.

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The Idiot

By Fyodor Dostoevsky, Constance Garnett

Book cover of The Idiot

Why this book?

This grand novel has with Dostoevsky's goal of portraying “the completely good and beautiful human being” in the sense of a naïve compassion for other human beings no matter their character made a big impression on me and has inspired me for the protagonist of my novel-series Bridges to the World. In the novel, Prince Myshkin's empathy and love for people in his surroundings creates a moral dramatic mirror of the passions, desires, and egoism of worldly society, and brings chaos to the relations of its incarnations, the aggressive Ragózjin and the double-minded Nastaja.  As in Shakespeare's Macbeth, love as compassion has bad conditions for survival in the affairs of human beings, although it gives great joy by Dostoevsky to be presented by the complexity of a good man.   

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The Sun Also Rises

By Ernest Hemingway

Book cover of The Sun Also Rises

Why this book?

This brilliantly written novel is a war and love story without any war and real love scenes. Capturing the so-called lost generations mentality of trying, in a somewhat hopeless alcoholic and decadent way, to cope with the hard emotional wounds and loss of values like honor, courage, stoicism, and glory in the trenches of the First World War. Jake, the American journalist, and protagonist, with his war injury-causing impotence, is unluckily not able to realize his true love for the flamboyant, emotionally destroyed Brett, who on her side can´t fulfill her love to him. In the subtle depicting of the tragedy of their love, Hemmingway movingly indirectly tells us about the great existential importance of being able to love and be loved. Lighthouse for me in telling about love.     

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Letters to Milena

By Franz Kafka, Philip Boehm

Book cover of Letters to Milena

Why this book?

These letters of Franz Kafka to his Czech translator Milena are not formally a novel but in its essence the love novel, none of his novels were.  He wrote them 1920-1923, being ill with tuberculosis as he was visiting different sanatoriums in Germany and Czechoslovakia and she was living in Vienna in an unhappy marriage. As they only saw each other shortly three times it forms a love by letters story of burning love transforming itself into misunderstandings and conflict. Their value lies in the genial Kafka’s trying and succeeding in communicating something incommunicable about how it is to be in love accounting totally honestly for his vast complexity of emotions from the utmost passion and longing to the state of fear of being rejected. A great inspiration to me for my novel in writing about Kafka.

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