NR Digital

Love in a Dark Time

by Michael Novak
I Kiss Your Hands Many Times: Hearts, Souls, and Wars in Hungary, by Marianne Szegedy-Maszak (Spiegel & Grau, 400 pp., $27)

It was a lovely custom in Hungary between the wars for a man to treat each woman as a lady, and to kiss her hand. The restraint behind such a kiss could be so gently expressed as to penetrate her heart, awakening passion, even a warming sensuality. But even if not, to be recognized as a lady is its own elixir.

Add then this: To kiss a lady’s hand “many times” is to express a special passion, a longing for commitment. Such a restraint our own poor age does not exercise. Too much, too fast, without any honor — a heavy price to pay.

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