THE READING of this book would be a disappointing experience for anyone who expects easy instruction in the art of loving. This book, on the contrary, wants to show that love is not a sentiment which can be easily indulged in by anyone, regardless of the level of maturity reached by him.
It wants to convince the reader that all his attempts for love are bound to fail, unless he tries most actively to develop his total personality, so as to achieve a productive orientation; that satisfaction in individual love cannot be attained without the capacity to love one’s neighbor, without true humility, courage, faith and discipline. In a culture in which these qualities are rare, the attainment of the capacity to love must remain a rare achievement. Or—anyone can ask himself how many truly loving persons he has known.
Yet, the difficulty of the task must not be a reason to abstain from trying to know the difficulties as well as the conditions for its achievement. To avoid unnecessary complications I have tried to deal with the problem in a language which is non-technical as far as this is possible. For the same reason I have also kept to a minimum references to the literature on love.
For another problem I did not find a completely satisfactory solution; that, namely, of avoiding repetition of ideas expressed in previous books of mine. The reader familiar,
especially, with Escape from Freedom, Man for Himself, and The Sane Society, will find in this book many ideas expressed in these previous works. However, The Art of Loving is by no means mainly a recapitulation. It presents many ideas beyond the previously expressed ones, and quite naturally even older ones sometimes gain new perspectives by the fact that they are all centered around one topic, that of the art of loving.