I was thinking about the perilous, consuming, surging power of love to bind our most rational senses into paralysis: ecstatic and terrifying.
In a surprising and unprompted letter, Countess Ewelina Hańska of Poland first wrote French author Honoré de Balzac in 1832, using a nom de plume to interrogate him on several of his novels, intrigued by his strong positive portrayals of women. He was captivated and became consumed with her, single-mindedly corresponding for months. Their invigorating repartee allured him all the more, and though she was still known to him only as l’Etrangère – the Stranger – he fell desperately in love with her. She was married at the time and intended to maintain anonymity, but after a year revealed herself, becoming his Eva. Their 20-year “soul-drama” was grounded in equality, a loving admiration of each other outstripping all other challenges. Eighteen years after their relationship began, she was finally free to become his wife, and they married in 1850. Just five months after that “summit of happiness,” he died.