Home/ Publications/ Books/ Undying Love, or Love Dies

No brief comment can adequately describe this book; it is impossible even to categorize it. But this is true of Nietzsche’s writings, too, and it is with Nietzsche that I can most readily compare Jalal Toufic. Like Nietzsche, Toufic is a writer of philosophical aphorisms, manifestations of the intensest of experiences under pressure of incomparable intelligence. But Nietzsche was no miniaturist, and neither is Toufic. The pressure that the thinking must withstand makes the writing remarkably concise, but its power is enormous, its scope vast, its effect sweeping. This, Jalal Toufic’s fifth book, can be read as a single aphorism, an aphorism composed of aphorisms. And though it is the shortest of his books to date, it is perhaps also the greatest.… Toufic’s writings have already attracted something of a cult following; it is likely that Undying Love, or Love Dies will bring him a far larger readership. Certainly that is something to be hoped for. There is, in my opinion, no more subtle or powerful thinker today than Jalal Toufic, and none whose ideas are, in the end, more beautiful.
Lyn Hejinian, author of A Border Comedy, The Cold of Poetry, The Cell, My Life, The Language of Inquiry, and Professor in the English Department, University of California at Berkeley

Shakespeare, the myth of Orpheus, Sufi poetry and the Qur’an are not just touched upon lightly here but deeply dissected, rearranged and returned to their transcendent order within Toufic’s amorous meditations. By turns mournful and magical, the book meanders through the Los Angeles of a decidedly cultured set, yet seems timeless in breadth, convincing in tone and earned in its broad field of reference. … Set pieces include a breathless re-creation of the drama of Orpheus’s ascent from hell (he is a much more melancholic, flawed and regretful hero in Toufic’s telling) and a ludic, yet compelling discourse on the Islamic creation myth. In the latter, Iblis (the Islamic equivalent to Satan) creates, in a six-day frenzy, the lower emotions (sadness, guilt, idolatry, sloth) to compensate for the suffering he felt from being separated from God. The son of an Iraqi father and a Palestinian mother, Toufic lived in Lebanon for 17 years, and Undying Love is haunted by death, most often seen as a labyrinth down which the beloved has thoughtlessly become ensconced. This short book, written in the high postmodern style that is digressive yet psychologically astute, is also—with its litany of crushed cities, its violent relationship to tradition, its intimacy that can’t assuage grieving—a resonant epigraph for war-torn cultures that pass into memory with no formal mnemonic, no epics or stone ruins, to keep them close.
Publishers Weekly, March 2003


© 2005– by Jalal Toufic. All rights reserved.