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Jennifer Aniston & Somerset Maugham on Love Lasting Forever


Tea: Plantation Mint

Music: Edvard Grieg: Peer Gynt Suite #2 Op 55

Quote: “We are not the same persons this year as the last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.” W. Somerset Maugham

Or for a modern day perspective:

Quote: “Whoever said that every relationship has to last for ever? That’s hoping for too much.” Jennifer Aniston

The celebrity gossip following Jennifer Aniston’s series of breakups, from John Mayer, to Vince Vaughn, and even before that Brad Pitt, begs the question: where is her happily ever after? Has she finally found it with Justin Theroux?  Or is she destined to be alone?  In considering Jennifer Aniston’s situation, I am not going to suggest that it is because she is fickle, works in the superficial world of Hollywood, or chooses the wrong men. All are possibilities mind you, but I am giving her the benefit of the doubt. Instead I would like to recognize the striking similarity in her views on the difficulty in maintaining a long term relationship with those of the writer Somerset Maugham.

Although the trials and tribulations of Hollywood royalty may seem as irrelevant to our personal romantic troubles as the characters in an old novel, we have more in common with both Hollywood stars and imaginary literary characters than we realize. In life, we are constantly evolving, growing, and ultimately changing. You are not the same person today, as you were the day before, and neither is your lover. In Somerset Maugham’s The Painted Veil, shallow, pretty Kitty Fane embarks on a passionate love affair with the equally shallow Charlie Townsend which goes awry when her husband walks in on them. (Ouch) After spending time in Mei Tan Fu with her estranged doctor husband, and working at the local convent, the suffering and death she witnesses changes her outlook on life. And so when she returns to Hong Kong, her feelings for Charlie Townsend undergo a great transformation as her passionate adoration turns into distaste and contempt, clearly evinced in her last words to him: “You really are the most vain and fatuous ass it’s ever been my bad luck to run across.” (Nothing like calling a man a vain and fatuous ass to put him in his place!)

Our daily experiences change us, and those of our lover and we can find ourselves worlds apart after only a few days apart. So even if we are not Jennifer Aniston, or an imaginary character in a Somerset Maugham novel, we can relate to their difficulties in maintaining a long term relationship because as Somerset Maugham writes, it is a happy chance, if we changing, continue to love a changed person.


1 comment

1 Ed the Gent { 03.26.09 at 6:05 pm }

Dear Erica,

Brilliant post and blog. But I find the fact that the characters of our loved ones evolve over the course of a relationship as being the necessary challenge of love. The whole point of two lovers is to evolve, stumble, and eventually improve together, all the while testing the very limits of each partner’s patience. Just as long as they don’t turn into fatuous asses, of course.

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