10 Literary Quotes About Love That Aren't Sappy


Now that Valentine's Day is over, you can quit quoting Corinthians. Love is complicated. Love can perplex. Love can frustrate. Love isn't always warm and fuzzy – sort of like the historical origins of Valentine's Day!

Literature is often mined for quotes about love, but said quotes often lean toward the quixotic and over-idyllic. Here are ten literary quotes about love that won't make you roll your eyes.

Read more: The Love Calculator: Take the Original Love Test to See If You'll Be Alone Forever

"Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word 'love' here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace – not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth."

– James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

"We went our separate ways, but within walking distance of one another." 

– Patti Smith, Just Kids

"If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more."

– Jane Austen, Emma

"I was half in love with her by the time we sat down. That's the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they're not much to look at, or even if they're sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are." 

– J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

"His devotion is complete; he is beginning to sense the confusion that arises from the first fears of what life would be like without her. He knows there can be such a thing, but like the answer to a difficult problem, he cannot imagine it." 

– James Salter, A Sport and a Pastime

"A love story is not about those who lose their heart but about those who find that sullen inhabitant who, when it is stumbled upon, means the body can fool no one, can fool nothing – not the wisdom of sleep or the habit of social graces. It is a consuming of oneself and the past." – Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

"I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be." 

– Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

"Greeting cards routinely tell us everybody deserves love. No. Everybody deserves clean water. Not everybody deserves love all the time." 

– Zadie Smith, White Teeth


"Es ist immer etwas Wahnsinn in der Liebe. Es ist aber immer auch etwas Vernunft im Wahnsinn."

– Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra


"Love has a way of cheating itself consciously, like a child who plays at solitary hide-and-seek; it is pleased with assurances that it all the while disbelieves."

– George Eliot, Adam Bede