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Woman and Love by Rudolph Valentino

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Jun 15th, 2015
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  1. Woman and Love
  5. (seen in Photoplay Magazine, March 1922)
  8. WHEN you ask me to write for you what I think
  9. about woman, I feel that I must produce for you
  10. something that would look like the Encyclopedia
  11. Britannica. Yet when I should be through with
  12. this great work, I shall still have said less than nothing about
  13. woman.
  15. We cannot know woman because she does not know herself.
  16. She is the unsolvable mystery, perhaps because there is no
  17. solution. The Sphinx has never spoken — perhaps because she
  18. has nothing to say.
  20. But since woman is the legitimate object of man's thoughts,
  21. and mine have been somewhat distilled in the alcohol of ex-
  22. perience, I may be able to give to you a little draft of truth.
  24. English is not my own tongue as you know. In Italian,
  25. French, Spanish, I might express myself better, for there we
  26. have such little words that have fire and understanding and
  27. delicate shades of meaning to
  28. which I know not yet the Eng-
  29. lish translations.
  31. My point of the view on
  32. woman is Latin — is continental.
  33. The American man I do not
  34. understand at all. I have lived
  35. much in Paris, in Rome, in New
  36. York, and from this traveling,
  37. which is of the finest to de-
  38. velop the mind and understand-
  39. ing soul, I have composed my
  40. little philosophy about woman.
  42. For there is only one book in
  43. which you may read about
  44. Woman. That is the Book of
  45. Life. And even that is written
  46. in cipher.
  48. But those who refuse to read
  49. it are generally more deeply
  50. wounded than those who digest
  51. it thoroughly.
  53. What comes to my mind first
  54. as I try to put into some order
  55. my ideas on this all-important
  56. subject, I will tell you.
  58. It is this. Which of the women I have known, have perhaps loved a little, do I remem-
  59. ber instantly, and which have I forgotten, so that I must think
  60. and think to recall them at all?
  62. The most difficult thing in the world is to make a man love
  63. you when he sees you every day. The next is to make him
  64. remember that he has loved you when he no longer sees you
  65. at all.
  67. Strangely enough, I remember the women who told me per-
  68. haps their little lonelinesses, who spoke in close moments true
  69. and sweet and simple heart throbs.
  71. Even the highest peak of emotion is finished. It has flamed,
  72. gone out, and told us very little about life. It was to enjoy,
  73. to drink deeply. But never is even that treasured in the heart
  74. as are those moments of simple, tender confidences, when a
  75. gentle, loving sigh opened the treasure house of a woman's
  76. heart and she spoke truly of those things within.
  78. A man likes even the bad
  79. women he knows to be good.
  81. To a woman who has revealed
  82. her soul, who has given a brief
  83. glimpse of her heart, no man
  84. ever pays the insult to forget;
  85. he pays her homage. I remem-
  86. ber a little Italian girl I once
  87. knew. She was very beautiful
  88. — so young. We used to sit in
  89. a tiny cafe we knew in Naples,
  90. and hold hands quite openly. I
  91. do not think I ever kissed her.
  92. We talked little, for she was not
  93. educated. It was not her mag-
  94. nificent eyes, nor the glory of
  95. her hair that was like a black-
  96. bird's wing, nor the round white
  97. curves of her young body — I
  98. remember her because of those
  99. little intimate moments when
  100. our thoughts were bound to-
  101. gether by her simple, tender,
  102. gentle words. We were intimates,
  103. and the soul is such a lonely
  104. thing that it treasures those
  105. moments of companionship.
  107. And this, surrender to confidence, to real intimacy of the
  108. soul and heart, speaks a much greater surrender to love, a
  109. much deeper capacity to love, than all the passion of a Cleo-
  110. patra.
  112. There was another woman in France, an older woman, the
  113. wife of a painter. I loved her because she was the only grave
  114. woman I ever have known who did not depress. I never
  115. saw her smile. But beneath that smooth, impartial beauty,
  116. that pearl-like, moon-like
  117. loveliness of hers, flowed a
  118. moulten lava of shy, strong,
  119. sentimentalism, which her
  120. mind condemned. It has
  121. remained with me like the
  122. perfume of a cathedral.
  124. THERE was a little
  125. artist's model, too, in
  126. Paris. Oh, of such a saucy,
  127. impudent, swift little crea-
  128. ture you have not heard.
  129. She had eyes like black
  130. coals and round little cheeks
  131. where hung the scarlet ban-
  132. ner of her youth and joie de
  133. vivre. She was enchanting.
  134. She danced like a bacchante.
  135. Her red lips were always
  136. laughing and singing and
  137. flinging teasing little mots
  138. at you. And she had a
  139. little hat which she herself
  140. made over every day, so
  141. that I thought she must
  142. have at least a dozen hats,
  143. and I was madly jealous of
  144. the man who must make
  145. this extravagance possible.
  146. Now it is not her coquetry,
  147. nor her vivid young beauty
  148. nor her wild youth that
  149. makes her live in my mem-
  150. ory, but the sweet little in-
  151. congruity of that little hat
  152. that her nimble fingers
  153. changed each day.
  155. Tenderness is absolutely
  156. the strongest, most lasting,
  157. most trustworthy emotion
  158. that a woman can arouse
  159. in a man. It is a great force that modern woman disregards.
  161. All women are divided into two classes in the mind of a
  162. man. Often they are so mixed up that you do not know which
  163. is which until you go down very deep. Then it does not matter,
  164. for in an affair of amour a counterfeit is often better than the
  165. real thing.
  167. In my poor English, let me say that there are what I would
  168. call joy-women and duty-women. Now understand, the joy
  169. woman may be very good and the duty woman might even
  170. be bad. That is just their relation to man. The first kind are
  171. the kind that you want to take with you on your joyful care-
  172. free wanderings into life's highways and byways. The others
  173. are the women who are possibilities to share the principal
  174. things of life — home, family, children.
  176. For a wife, a man should pick out a woman who is pretty,
  177. has a good disposition, and is domestically inclined. They are
  178. very rare, now, I admit. One is too apt to be deceived by
  179. their easy method of comradeship. Let her be your inferior,
  180. if possible. Then she will be happy with you. It is much
  181. more essential to marriage that a woman be happy in it than
  182. a man. I do not mean a butterfly that flits from beauty parlor
  183. to beauty parlor. But a good woman who has the old-fashioned
  184. virtues.
  186. We Europeans do not expect too much of one woman.
  188. The difficulty with love and marriage in this country is that
  189. the man has let the game get out of his hand. A woman can
  190. never have a happy love affair with a man unless he is her
  191. superior. It just can't be done. The love affair where the
  192. woman is the stronger in mind and knowledge is always a
  193. tragedy or a farce.
  195. I do not like women who know too much. Remember, it was from the serpent that Eve was given that apple from the
  196. Tree of Knowledge. Just so would I make the Tree of
  197. Knowledge of Life today — forbidden to women. If they must
  198. eat of it, let them do so in secret and burn the core.
  200. Do not misunderstand this that I say. I do not mean this
  201. in regard to intelligence, to education, even to position. The
  202. more cultured and accomplished a woman is, the more ex-
  203. quisite she is to love, the more like gold that is soft to touch and handle. With her, all
  204. is delicate and attractive,
  205. all is beautiful and fine, her
  206. mind is attuned to beauty
  207. — and beauty is of itself a
  208. religion.
  210. No, when I speak thus of
  211. an inferior — a superior — I
  212. mean in experience of life,
  213. in power to do, in ways of
  214. love. The man may be a
  215. digger in the ditch, and the
  216. woman a teacher in the
  217. school, but he is the master
  218. of her if he knows more of
  219. the world than she does. It
  220. is not becoming that a
  221. woman should know the
  222. world. It is not proper
  223. that a lady should go to
  224. places or to things where
  225. she acquires this knowledge.
  226. If she knows these
  227. things, she must be clever
  228. enough to conceal her
  229. knowledge, like the girl
  230. who can swim a mile, yet
  231. with much grace and helplessness she allows me to
  232. teach her swimming.
  234. How completely the
  235. modern woman in America
  236. tries to destroy romance.
  237. How ugly and cut-and-dry
  238. it has become — love.
  239. Either it must be marriage
  240. or it must be ugly scandal.
  241. The brilliant, absorbing, delightful, dangerous, innocent — sometimes — sport of
  242. love, how it goes. She
  243. knows too much about life
  244. and too little about emotion. She knows all of the bad and
  245. none of the good about passion. She has seen everything,
  246. felt nothing. She arouses in me disgust.
  248. Sometimes a man may feel that he would rather a woman
  249. had done many, many bad things — real bad things — and yet
  250. been delicate, and quiet and dignified, than to see her common.
  251. If the bloom has been rubbed from the peach, let her paint
  252. it back on with an artistic hand.
  254. SHOULD I try again to find me a wife, I say, let me find one
  255. who wishes to have children and who when she has had
  256. them, wishes to take care of them. That is the proper test for
  257. the good woman who is to share the side of your life. No
  258. other woman can ever mean to a man what his children's
  259. mother means to him — if she does not let herself get fat and
  260. ugly and old. No man can love a woman who lets herself
  261. get fat, and careless and unpleasant. He must then constantly
  262. make comparisons of her with the beautiful young girls about.
  263. A wife's first duty is to keep her husband from making com-
  264. parisons.
  266. A man is always intrigued to see a woman with a child.
  267. The Sistine Madonna is as famous and as beloved as Mona
  268. Lisa.
  270. But — for a sweetheart. Ah, that is different. To me, I
  271. have been won always by the woman who has great ability
  272. to feel. I have never yet seen a cold woman who interested
  273. me. A reluctant woman, yes. But reluctant only as a flower
  274. is reluctant to bloom in winter. Place it in the hot-house of
  275. proper wooing — and it blossoms. She must have intelligence.
  277. A love affair with a stupid woman no matter how beautiful,
  278. is like cold coffee for breakfast. (Continued on page 106)
  280. t is coffee of course — but one would almost
  281. rather do without. The ancient Greeks
  282. taught the art of love to their damsels.
  283. They understood the necessity of doing well
  284. and wisely the things that are important
  285. to life. Today, every man is seeking the
  286. woman who is intelligent about love, who
  287. understands instinctively those fine, sensitive
  288. cords that make up passion. Love is as
  289. delicate as an orchid.
  291. A WOMAN must have curiosity. I have
  292. been most captivated by the sight in a
  293. woman's eyes of that infinite curiosity about
  294. life. Curiosity is not a fault. It is the
  295. cocktails of the emotions.
  297. In one point do I disagree greatly with
  298. the American man's philosophy of love.
  299. I believe that the most irresistible woman
  300. in the world is the woman who is madly
  301. in love with you. I can resist any temptation except the incense of adoration. Nothing is so flattering to a man as a woman's
  302. adoration. More men are attracted and held
  303. by a woman's passion for them than by
  304. theirs for her. It is the emotion he is able
  305. to arouse in a woman that thrills him most,
  306. not the emotion she is able to arouse in
  307. him.
  309. The experienced man of the world returns'
  310. again and again to the warm flame of a
  311. woman's passion for him. It is the one
  312. form of romance of which a man never
  313. tires. He may tire of the particular flame
  314. and see a new one, but difference in object
  315. will not change singleness of passion.
  317. The less experienced man, the man who
  318. doesn't need to seek new sensations, is
  319. thrilled by the coquette who plays with
  320. him. But he has not yet discovered that
  321. the most enthralling thing in the world is
  322. an influence over the emotions and actions
  323. and heart beats of another — when it is
  324. genuine.
  326. The most dangerous woman in the world
  327. is a pretty woman who has deep wells of
  328. passion in her nature but who has never
  329. loved.
  331. Of all the women I have known, the
  332. Frenchwomen are the most nearly perfect.
  333. No matter what their age or class may be,
  334. they have that touch of domesticity, that
  335. sweet and gentle something that lends a
  336. delicacy even to the wildness of the senses.
  337. Thy know how to amuse, how to touch
  338. the heart, they have the sixth sense of
  339. pleasing a man with their perfection. And
  340. they are so very well dressed. All of them.
  342. American women are terribly pretty.
  343. Even when they are quite ugly, they are
  344. pretty. They are always rather well dressed.
  345. And they always behave as though they
  346. were beautiful. Which gives them great
  347. poise. But they lack softness, they lack
  348. feminine charm and sweetness. You cannot
  349. imagine them doing their bits of sewing,
  350. washing, mending, and what not. They
  351. dazzle but they do not warm. They are
  352. magnificent when they are dressed up, but
  353. I never have seen one who was likewise
  354. at ease and delicious and feminine in the
  355. kitchen or the nursery.
  357. They are so restless, too. Nothing interferes with romance like restlessness. It
  358. destroys those subtle shadings that are the
  359. very breath of its life.
  361. I do not blame the women for all this. I
  362. blame the American man. He cannot hold
  363. a woman, dominate and rule her. Naturally
  364. things have come to a pretty pass. He is
  365. impossible as a lover. He cares nothing for
  366. pleasing the woman. He is not master in
  367. his own house. He picks and nags about
  368. little things, and then falls down in big ones.
  369. He expects to feed a woman on the husk left from business and golf and money, and
  370. satisfy her. He has learned nothing about
  371. love and yet he expects to bestow upon her
  372. everything she should desire.
  374. In his blindness therefore, he despises the
  375. young European who comes here. He laughs
  376. at him, makes fun of him, calls him insult-
  377. ing names. Why? Because this man, versed
  378. and trained in all that goes to make every-
  379. thing from the lightest philandering to the
  380. deepest amour, exquisite and entertaining
  381. and delicate, this man — what is it you say
  382. — shows him up? Yes.
  384. A woman will flirt with anybody in the
  385. world so long as there are lots of other
  386. people looking on. That is natural. But to
  387. flirt in private without boredom and without
  388. offending her delicate sensibilities, she desires
  389. a partner whose experience of these things
  390. is greater than her own.
  392. The caveman method I abhor, and I do
  393. not believe that it is ever successful with
  394. the woman who is worth having. Who
  395. could desire a woman taken by force? Who
  396. would gain any pleasure from loving or
  397. caressing a woman who did not give in
  398. return? The giving of love to me is not
  399. half so wonderful as the receiving. It may
  400. be more blessed but it is not nearly so
  401. exhilarating.
  403. The mental caveman — ah, that is again
  404. different. By cleverness, by diplomacy, by
  405. superior mental force, by skill — that is the
  406. way to win a woman. It is only a woman
  407. who must be so won, but who after being
  408. won can give great ardor to a love affair,
  409. who proves attractive.
  411. Even a woman whose passions are never
  412. returned has a better chance of keeping
  413. her illusions than the woman who has a
  414. love affair with a man who is brutal and
  415. uncouth. I have never known a woman in
  416. my life who was not modest, who did not
  417. have in her a certain feeling of delicacy and
  418. a regard for herself if allowed to express it.
  420. A man who is brutal and direct and uncouth in his advances to a woman — and you
  421. would be surprised to learn how many men
  422. today push aside all the ordinary conventions when they see a woman who attracts
  423. them — looks at that woman and his purpose
  424. with her is written in his eyes. It is plain
  425. and ugly and it offends her at once, even
  426. though the man himself attracts.
  428. The second or the third time he sees her,
  429. he — again I am American — he gets fresh.
  430. Maybe he tries to kiss her. Then if she is
  431. a woman worth having, she slaps his face
  432. and says to him, "How dare you?"
  434. QUITE right. I would not care to kiss
  435. the woman whose lips were mine at our
  436. second or third meeting.
  438. The preliminaries of a love affair are the
  439. most enticing part of the game. Let a
  440. woman in them be sweet but cool, promising
  441. but never encouraging, never exhibiting braz-
  442. enly her familiarity with life.
  444. Now we come to the skilled lover — the
  445. European lover. He veils his purpose.
  446. Back in his mind may be the same thought,
  447. the same desire to kiss that woman. He
  448. does not let her see it. No, no. He is
  449. gentle, he is sweet. He is deferential. He
  450. flatters her, because all woman love flattery,
  451. though not so much as men. He tells her
  452. that she is beautiful, that she is good, that
  453. she is wonderful beyond all woman.
  455. He pets her, caresses her a little to let
  456. her become accustomed to his touch. He
  457. lets her see that he enjoys her company,
  458. even when they sit the length of a room
  459. apart. He lets her know that he likes to
  460. be near her, to speak of books and music
  461. and paintings. He reads poetry to her.
  464. Then when he kisses her, she gives him
  465. back his kiss. No caveman can ever know
  466. the sweetness of that returned kiss. What
  467. she does, she does for love. So she is
  468. happy in it, and makes neither herself nor
  469. him miserable with reproaches. Even if he
  470. never sees her again, she will cherish a fond
  471. memory of him. She has not lost her self-
  472. respect. The affair may last a long time,
  473. and much happy companionship is possible
  474. to them.
  476. A woman loves finesse. In Europe, we
  477. are taught to be most polite, to be courteous,
  478. to entertain the ladies. When we go into
  479. a drawing room, we talk of art, music,
  480. books, we tell a witty remark or two.
  481. Everyone is happy, and amused. One is
  482. never rude but tries to show the greatest
  483. attentions and charms he possesses. Then
  484. when he goes, the ladies — and maybe one
  485. upon whom he has his eyes, says, "What a
  486. charming and amusing person."
  488. You see women love with their ears, men
  489. with their eyes.
  491. Ah yes, in the small matters one is a
  492. slave. But in the big things — he is master.
  493. To argue about little things with a woman,
  494. to get angry, is one thing that no man versed
  495. in the arts of love ever does. After all, it
  496. is the woman who decides whether she finds
  497. you charming. It is only after you have
  498. won her love that you dare be master.
  500. One can always be kind to a woman one
  501. cares nothing about — and to a woman by
  502. whom one is attracted. But only cruel to
  503. a woman one loves or has loved.
  505. THERE are several kinds of women,
  506. several kind of methods of wooing on
  507. their part that are irresistible to me.
  509. I love the dainty, little woman, who plays
  510. seriously at being domestic. She fascinates
  511. me. Everything womanly, distinctly femi-
  512. nine, in a woman, appeals to me. I adore
  513. her bird-like ways, her sweet pretenses, her
  514. delicious prettiness. I love her almost as
  515. one loves a cunning child, and when to this
  516. is added the filipe of sex, she becomes
  517. perfect. I do not like in her flippant, cold-
  518. blooded little tricks, but those soft, lovable
  519. ways of a little woman, those melting, help-
  520. less little ways of hers — that bring tears to
  521. your eyes and fire to your lips.
  523. Then there is the silent, mysterious woman
  524. who fences divinely. Who knows silently
  525. and secretly the secrets of the couquette —
  526. that last art of woman, in always leaving
  527. herself an opportunity to retreat. Who has
  528. always at hand that last weapon of woman
  529. — surrender.
  531. The greatest asset to a woman is dignity.
  532. It is her shield. With it, she may commit
  533. indiscretions that a vulgar puritan could
  534. never attempt. Dignity in a woman always
  535. puzzles a man. He likes it. He admires it.
  536. He feels confidence in the woman who dis-
  537. plays it. He knows that she will never
  538. make a fool of herself or of him.
  540. Nothing so fascinates me as the ability of
  541. a woman to get great pleasure from life.
  542. It is so short. The tragedy of age is not
  543. that one grows old, but that one's heart
  544. stays young. Life that develops the soul,
  545. slowly disintegrates the body. Therefore,
  546. let us make merry while we can. I cannot
  547. stand a woman who is afflicted with ennui.
  548. My countrywomen possess the gorgeous
  549. quality of enjoying life, of loving it, of
  550. getting from it all that there is to get, more
  551. than all other women. But they are never
  552. hoydenish, nor restless. They have grace
  553. and poise and polish.
  555. Love is honey. It is a flower. It may
  556. be fierce as a tiger lily, but it must be
  557. beautiful, delicate, gentle too.
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