Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love

Andrew Shaffer (Author)


Although nearly everyone "fails at love" to some degree, few have failed as spectacularly as the great philosophers. While we revere their wisdom, history is in fact littered with the romantic failures of the most sensible men and women of every age. If only they had taken their own advice Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love paints brief but entertaining portraits of nearly forty great thinkers whose words we repeat--but whose decisions we should avoid at all costs.

- Friedrich Nietzsche: "Ah, women. They make the highs higher and the lows more frequent." (Rejected by everyone he proposed to, even when he kept asking and asking.)

- Louis Althusser: "The trouble is, there are bodies and, worse still, sexual organs." (Accidentally strangled his wife to death.)

- St. Augustine of Hippo: "Give me chastity and continence, but not yet." (Let his mother pressure him into dumping his beloved girlfriend/baby mama.)

- Jean-Paul Sartre: "There are of course ugly women, but I prefer those who are pretty." (Adopted his mistress as his daughter.)--Maclean's

Product Details

Harper Perennial
Publish Date
January 04, 2011
5.06 X 0.55 X 7.14 inches | 0.33 pounds
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About the Author

Andrew Shaffer is the New York Times bestselling author of Hope Never Dies: An Obama Biden Mystery and, most recently, Secret Santa: A Horror For the Holidays Novel. He is a three-time nominee and two-time finalist in the Goodreads Choice Awards. His poetry has been published in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, among other venues. He lives with his wife, author Tiffany Reisz, in Louisville, Kentucky, a magical land of horses, bourbon, and basketball.


"A fun way to learn about the lives and loves of the great thinkers."--William Irwin, co-editor of The Simpsons and Philosophy
"A funny and oddly moving history of philosophy as tortured erotic dysfunction."--Neal Pollack, author of Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude
"Indispensable advice for all lovers--and especially for those who think they should learn about the art of love from philosophers. A wonderful summary of the musings on love by some of history's greatest and most idiosyncratic minds."--Clancy Martin, editor of Love, Lies, and Marriage
"'Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love' extends the schadenfreude to the boudoir."--New York Times Book Review
"[A]n entertaining romp through the seamy side of philosophy... highlighting the hypocrisy and downright ineptness of those who too often counted as our 'greatest thinkers' in this crucial, if so often overlooked, area of sexual politics..."--Martin Cohen, editor of The Philosopher
"Fascinating, thought-provoking and mildly disturbing... Also, if you are considering dating an eminent philosopher, you need to buy this right now."--A.J. Jacobs, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Year of Living Biblically and The Know-It-All
"Amazing stories! Incredible quotes! Sordid details! This book shows that a genius in the realm of thought can be a dummy in the land of love. It's a hilarious and provocative warning, full of cautionary tales for us all. Enjoy it and share it with someone you love!"--Tom Morris, author of If Aristotle Ran General Motors
"[An] amusing essay in highbrow schadenfreude...most of the philosophers, giant throbbing intellects and all, simply screwed up like the rest of us."--Maclean's
"If you're in dutch with your valentine, give him Andrew Shaffer's book, which recounts the tortured love lives of 37 thinkers. Compared to them, you'll look as saintly as St. Thomas himself--who, Shaffer tells us, once chased a prostitute out of his room with a hot poker."--Martha Stewart Whole Living
"Shaffer's jaunty compendium of highbrow heartbreak provides proof positive that even the most brilliant of minds can fall afoul of Cupid--and offers some measure of hope to the lovelorn."--Publishers Weekly
"Eye-opening, funny, and frequently shocking."--the Cedar Rapids Gazette