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the Complete Review
the complete review - non-fiction



Unrequited Love

by
Gregory Dart


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Unrequited Love



Title: Unrequited Love
Author: Gregory Dart
Genre: Non-fiction
Written: 2003
Length: 156 pages
Availability: Unrequited Love - US
Unrequited Love - UK
Unrequited Love - Canada
  • On Stalking and Being Stalked
  • A Story of Obsessive Passion
  • Unrequited Love was made into a movie, directed by Christopher Petit (2006)

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Our Assessment:

B+ : well-written, tidy look at stalking

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Guardian . 17/5/2003 Chris Petit
The Independent . 20/5/2003 Nick Groom
The Times . 26/4/2003 Melissa Katsoulis
TLS . 5/9/2003 Noonie Minogue


  From the Reviews:
  • "Dart grasps that stalking is fashionable, the urban agnostic's fundamentalism." - Chris Petit, The Guardian

  • "Dart is a candid analyst of his own feelings, but is he candid enough ? He allows the reader to intrude into his private life and judge his insecurities, his foolishness. This is courageous and admirable, but he is too coy about sex, barely mentioned in a book about love, passion and desire. (...) Reading Dart's misadventures is almost voyeuristic, and suggests that the avidity with which we follow characters and plots could itself be a metaphor for stalking." - Nick Groom, The Independent

  • "His book is more a running commentary on a personal work-in-progress than anything approaching a definitive study, but in 156 pages of Short Book this is not the point, and he succeeds in opening our eyes to the implications of phenomena such as reality television and the effect that it has on our lives." - Melissa Katsoulis, The Times

  • "Love-madness is nonetheless the subject of this very engaging and subtle book (.....) (H)is personal story merges with a re-exploration of romantic love in its pre-commercialized forms, taking Dante, Goethe and Stendhal as his frames of reference." - Noonie Minogue, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Unrequited Love is framed by experience: Gregory Dart begins his book by describing being the subject of an obsession, and he closes it with a record of an unrequited infatuation of his own. Between this he considers the theory and manifestations of stalking, looking in particular (as befits a lecturer in English) at some literary takes on it.
       A young academic, Dart found himself the subject (or target) of an obsession by a young woman, here called Lucy. She came into his life at a conference. Lucy was a graduate student, and they shared some interests, but from how Dart describes it what friendship developed was no more than the casual acquaintanceship one strikes up at such get-togethers. They exchanged e-mail addresses at the end of the conference -- but then hers was only one of many he collected.
       Dart obviously missed something: they stayed in touch, and a year later, when Lucy visits London, she drops her bombshell on him: she's been in love with him all this time. Quite desperately in love, too, it seems, as Dart describes it. And when Dart isn't eager to pursue the relationship she isn't readily willing to let it go either.
       Dart's experience isn't particularly terrifying -- Lucy may have been disturbed but she was not maniacal, and there were no incredible shows of violence or other truly outlandish behaviour. But she did stalk him, and as Dart makes clear, her actions were disturbing.
       What Dart also does well is convey the confusion and frustration he the behaviour engenders, as he tries to reconstruct how he may have brought this on -- and as he notices changes in his own behaviour towards others in light of how Lucy has acted. It comes full circle then at the end, when he is smitten by Charlotte, a woman at his local gym. Charlotte is mildly interested in him, but she has a boyfriend and decides it would be unwise to get to know Dart too well -- but Dart finds it difficult to get her out of his mind, and engages in some behaviour that teeters on the verge of stalking.

       Dart believes that there his been a great increase in stalking in modern times, for a variety of reasons. He offers anecdotal evidence of any number of his friends, all of whom appear to have been stalked at one time or another -- unwanted attention that so easily slips just (or, occasionally, way) too far. His descriptions of his research of his own research into the subject -- ordering books on the subject at the British Library -- also begins to sound a little creepy, but at least offers a general overview of the evolution and state of stalking. If the survey of what he reads and learns remains a bit simple, there are at least some decent considerations of such "Hollywood harassment films" as Sleeping with the Enemy and Fatal Attraction.
       Dart is more concerned with unrequited love and its torments than the crazed and violent stalker of Hollywood (and, occasionally, real-life) fame, and his literary background leads him to offer some decent reflections on unrequited lovers of yore -- from Goethe's Werther to Stendhal himself. He notes: "unrequited love is unrequired love -- impractical, unproductive and unreal." But, as he shows throughout the book, it's out there -- and can strike the best of us (witness his Charlotte-longings).

       Unrequited Love is a good, personal consideration of stalking. Not an in-depth analysis, it nevertheless covers a lot of ground. It is also a fine read: Dart writes very well and fluidly, expressing himself clearly and presenting the book engagingly. A fine effort.

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Links:

Reviews: Unrequited Love - the film: Gregory Dart: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Gregory Dart is a lecturer at University College, London.

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© 2003-2010 the complete review

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