John Tyrrell, editor & translator Intimate Letters: Leoš Janá?ek to Kamila Stösslová.
Princeton University Press, 397 pages, $35
Intimate Letters: Leoš Janá?ek to Kamila Stösslová is a generous selection from Janác’ek’s letters to his Immortal Beloved, along with a few of her replies. Slogging through these billets doux-amers is not always easy. But once read, they are a rewarding subject for extensive speculation about the role romantic love plays in an artist’s creativity, and about whether sustained passion in anyone’s life depends on its remaining unconsummated.
For eleven years the great Czechoslovak composer loved, adored, and panted for the much younger Kamila Stösslová. They met at the Luhacovice spa in 1917, when he was sixty-three and she twenty-six, and were parted...