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Sex and the City at the New York Public Library

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Love might be a many-splendored thing. Sex and the City is another. Where the two intersect is the interesting moment in the new film where one of the women characters ends up in bed with one of the men (no names: no spoilers) and begins to read from a book of collected love letters. In a movie full of products like Prada, Louis Vuitton, Skyy vodka, and Mercedes Benz, it is this book that the musty old librarian’s attention focuses on. (I’m the guy sitting across from you on the bus who just has to know what book you’re reading.)

Sex and the City opens this week. You’ll recall that last fall some of its major scenes were shot in and around the New York Public Library. (I expect this movie will stir even more curiosity than The Day After Tomorrow, the unlikely story of a frozen New York whose survivors gathered in the Trustees Room and burned books for warmth.) Notably, the wedding festivities of Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Big are set inside the building, which requires no computer generated effects to look palatial, and there is even a recreation of Fashion Week in Bryant Park, as if the real thing doesn’t crop up often enough. Lots of people will see this movie, many will want to visit its famous locations in person, and more than a few will start to think about the raging emotions of the famous which find their purest expression in love letters.

Which brings us back to that book. Is it a true collection of love letters, or one of those generic 25-cent books bought at a rummage sale by the prop department and tricked-out to suit the requirements of the plot? I’m afraid I came up with no answer. But my curiosity was stirred by the question to see what sorts of similar collections might exist at the New York Public Library. A subject search for love-letters on the library catalog brings up 186 volumes. Many of these are devoted to a unique love correspondence, but many are anthologized collections similar to the one in the movie.

From Love Letters: An Anthology /chosen by Antonia Fraser, we can read Napoleon’s letter to Josephine:

"I have not spent a day without loving you; I have not spent a night without embracing you; I have not so much as drunk a single cup of tea without cursing the pride and ambition which force me to remain separated from the moving spirit of my life."

Or, in Forever Yours: Letters of Love, one of Beethoven’s impassioned love letters begins:

“Though still in bed my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, now and then joyfully, then sadly, waiting to learn whether or not fate will hear us. I can live only wholly with you or not at all—yes, I am resolved to wander so long away from you until I can fly to your arms and say that I am really at home, send my soul enwrapped to you into the land of spirits.”

And, from Love Letters of Famous Men and Women [1888], Congreve writes:

“Dear Madam . . . Recal to my mind what happened last night. That at least was a lover’s kiss. Its eagerness, its fierceness, its warmth, expressed the God its parent. But oh! Its sweetness, and its melting softness expressed him more. With trembling in my limbs, and fevers in my soul I ravish’d it. Convulsions, panting, murmurings shew’d the mighty disorder within me: the might disorder increased by it. For those dear lips shot through my heart, and thro’ my bleeding vitals, delicious poison, an an avoidless but charming ruin.”

No sir, we’re not talking email, here.

Similar volumes, such as Love Letters: an Illustrated Anthology, The Book of Love: Writers and Their Love Letters, and Famous Love Letters: Messages of Intimacy and Passion can be found or reserved at various branch libraries in the city and borrowed for intimate evenings at home. So settle back, pour out a sip of Skyy vodka, slip off your $500 Manolos, and get swept up by Franz Liszt to Marie d’ Agoult:

“My heart overflows with emotion and joy! I do not know what heavenly languor, what infinite pleasure permeates it and burns me up. It is as if I had never loved!!! Tell me whence uncanny disturbances spring, these inexpressible foretastes of delight, these divine tremors of love. Oh! All this can only spring from you, sister, angel, woman, Marie!”

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Sex & the City (movie)

The movie got a terrible review in the NY Times today (p.E1). Manohla Dargis said it would be a waste of time to sit through. Its content apparently pales in comparison to Robert Armitage's titillating quotes. Readers would be much better off perusing our stacks for free than spending money on this movie.

Sad..............

I am sad that Ms. Dargis regarded the STC movie as "a waste of time to sit through". I believe people such as Ms. Dargis take themselves too seriously I realize it is her career to review movies, but she is seriously missing the simplistic reality of it, it was just plain "FUN". I went not stressing whether I would love the plot, or be on the edge of my seat. My desire was to soak in the "girl's", the fashion, the humor, BIG and the whole ensemble. With the state of our economy, life, etc..I was looking to be just plain entertained & it delivered. Sure, I wish there would of been more of Carrie's quick wit, Samantha's sexual prowness, but it was okay. I got my $'s worth & it was faulous to see them all once again. I enjoyed the fact that groups of women everywhere got together to attend the movie. My daughter's gal pal's dressed as their favorite characer to attend. My husband went to the movie with me and there were many other men filling seats, the one in front of me was there alone! Bravo! Please realize Ms. Dargis that the movie is more, much more, to so many of us. I got a few hours to forget that my mom has metastatic CA, or the fact that I cannot even land a job interview, let alone a job (I'm over 50), and I have two son's to help support in college. For 2.5 hr.'s I was taken away! And yes, I will have seperation anxiety all over again missing my four favorite females (oh yes, & BIG).

the movie

Who ever thought this was going to be anything other than "entertaining" is not too bright. And if one doesn't have apathy for the stories of the lives of others as well as the ability to be happy when they are, and sad when they are, then they should stick to reading original books. Screenplays are written to bring the story to the "screen" and so it goes. If you would rather just sit and let life pass you by, you can, and if you don't possess the ability to try, God bless you. The rest of us can go to the movies and for a few brief hours enjoy the ups and downs of what this movie has to offer. Pure joy for the human spirit of now. The mad, rushed, hurried world of love faxes instead of letters. Emails.Instant Eveything. But still know their is and always be love for eveyone who truly wants it.

A moment to warm your heart:

Young patron overheard talking on cell phone about the SatC movie, later approached by librarian and asked if she was a fan of Candace Bushnell's books, too. "Who's <em>that?" </em>She wound up leaving w/ <a href="http://shelftalk.spl.org/2008/05/28/book-suggestions-for-fans-of-sex-and-the-city/"><strong>an armload of books</strong>.</a> Hard to feel bad about this kind of pop culture phenomenon.

How did they decide (if they did)?

I've heard persistent rumors the the New York Public Library turned down a substantial amount of money from the makers of "The Day After Tomorrow" to be allowed to film in the building and to use the institution's name in the movie. Apparently, the Library did not find that the film "fitted the image" it wants to project (and protect?). The library in the movie ends up being referred to as the "New York City Library". Is this true? I personally find the tale of people surviving a new global ice age (even if it is by burning books) much more inspiring than the escapades of a handful of spoiled, privileged women whose biggest "problem" is deciding between hunky personal trainers. Maybe I'd feel differently if I lived in a palatial apartment with closets full of designer clothes and a "little black book" full of the names of witty, intelligent, great-in-bed partners. Unfortunately, speaking of movies as fantasy, I have a better chance of going to the "Star Wars" universe and becoming a Jedi knight than of living the SitC lifestyle.

you have my sympathy

You have totally missed the point. Apparently you prefer to live life from the dark side. I hope your encounter with Darth Maul will be as inspiring as the possibility that true, heart-felt, can't-live-without-it love and friendship do exist...whether or not we ever actually find it.

Wow...you are bitter!

Wow...you are bitter! Lighten up they're just movies...sheesh!

The movie "Sex and the City"

The movie "Sex and the City" is part of a cultural phenomena which started with the series Sex and the City. It is acceptable for the movie itself not to be a masterpiece as long as it entertains. I understand why some may not be touched or amused by the lifestyles, opinions, and priorities of these women. Perhaps it is because you are not the audience this movie was made for.

Touché

<strong></strong>I could not have said it better. The person who extolled the virtues of the NYTimes film critic as the end all in judgement of this film is bit much. I have not seen the movie but will and I wish I could with my sister. I was also not a regular viewer of the tv show (I did not have cable at the time) but my sister was. If anything this film celebrates women and their friendships and that is where the real success of this film lies.

Love Letters book

I just wanted to let anyone looking for it know that the love letters in the movie can be found in this book: The 50 Greatest Love Letters of All Time by David Lowenherz.

RE: THE WEDDING READING IN THE MOVIE

Hi There Can anyone pls help, the reading that Carrie was having for her wedding , who was it by and what was it called, I have searched high and low, but have found nothing, pls help....

Hi there - did you get any

Hi there - did you get any response to your question? I'm trying to find this out too! We can't be the only 2 people on earth who is interested in this, surely! Would be interested to hear if you have any update x

What was the reading??!!

Hi We are just about to get married.. and i am wondering what the reading was as well?! Have you found out what the name of it was?! Emma

Missing the point

I'm sick of hearing it, the movie was too long, it's un-realistic, it's too sad, too funny, they're spoiled, it's sexist, IT'S A MOVIE! It is aimed at the people who loved the show, like me, who went out the day the shoebox came out as a set and bought the damn thing reguardless of the fact that I probably couldn't afford it at the time, but I have continued to watch it from start to finish with my girlfriends and laugh and cry in all the same places and sometimes new ones. It was not supposed to be the answer to life, it is not supposed to be realistic, although there are a select few out there who get to have this life, Good for Them, they probably worked their arses off for it. If you didn't like it too bad, we can't all please everyone, I think there might have been an eppisode based on that theory!

I only became a fan of the

I only became a fan of the show in the last season but I have watched every episode since. I think the movie did trememdous justice to the series. I find it hard to believe that any true fan of the show would not feel the same. The movie was true to the characters and showed how strong the female sisterhood is, despite what life may throw at you. For those of you who did not like the movie, I would suggest watching it again!

Striking a chord.

Wow. The number of comments seems to have spiked for this post compared with others. The contemporary popular culture seems to get the juices flowing.

I really liked Sex and the

I really liked Sex and the City even not having seen ANY of the series.....you can't take it seriously although in the end all women want different things out of life and one cannot generalise about ANYTHING....I will now watch the series i think and try and find the Love letters book as they were beautiful lines.......PLEASE don't go and get The Secret......what a big load of PR rubbish

library song

Someone please help!! What is the name of the song playing while Carrie is on the phone with Big at the library??? The part where Big bails on Carrie to be exact. Thank you, please help!!!

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