The 10 greatest love stories in literature.

The 10 greatest love stories in literature.

In case it had escaped your notice, Friday was Valentine’s Day.

For as long as writers have touched ink to paper, they have explored the agonies, ecstasies and ambiguities of romance, from the medieval tradition of courtly love (note to Petrarch: she’s just not that into you) to the modern novel.

Literature is at its best when it prods at the constraints society places on people, making love the perfect topic: a battleground between our most basic biological urges and the changing social mores around what constitutes an acceptable relationship.

In this round-up of literary love stories, constraints are explored in all their forms: from lovers crossing the spidery cracks of class differences in Georgian England to those stepping across dangerous chasms that have divided people based on sexual orientation or faith.

Some celebrate romantic success, some help you feel you’re not alone in your heartbreak, others question the boundaries and meanings of love itself.

Read below to see the 10 greatest love stories:

  1. The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion
  2. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel García Marquez
  3. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
  4. The Great Gatsby, by F Scott Fitzgerald
  5. Under the Udala Trees, by Chinelo Okparanta
  6. Middle England, by Jonathan Coe
  7. A Single Man, by Christopher Isherwood
  8. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
  9. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
  10. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

There is a reason this novel is basically synonymous with romance, spawning endless tributes and adaptations over 200 years after it was written: it captures what so many people long for in a relationship. No, not an ornamental lake and a man in britches, but for someone to see your true value. Darcy puts aside his concerns over Elizabeth’s lower social standing; Elizabeth moves past his terrible line in small talk. There’s a beautiful symmetry in the way their relationship sloughs off faults on both sides, while Austen’s barbed prose is a timeless joy.

Ceri Radford – The Independent