#6: ‘I am nothing special, of this I am sure. I am a common man with common thoughts and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough.’
And what better way to follow up on that last segment with a commentary on Sparks’ romantic ideal. Of all the many The Notebook quotes out there which you can choose to use for this sort of analysis—so ubiquitous is this theme in Sparks’ work—this one perhaps best encapsulates his style of compliment.
As stated, he is building from old tropes—so much so that we risk sounding old just repeating that—and you see this sort of flowery, over-the-top language in everything from Elizabethan theatre to Romantic poetry.
We’ve all seen this, putting oneself down and building the object of our desires up. Both contrast with one another to make the gratification of the latter all the more apparent—the lower you seem and the higher you make the praise for your love interest, the greater potential for charm (or cheese.)
In Medieval literature, courtly love often featured the aspect of scorn, ie, a knight or courtly figure laying themselves out before a lady in the same manner as Sparks’ speaker here, only to be met with indifference—and often, the hope or understanding to try again.
For those who think this sounds romantic…well, many of those courtly tales WERE Medieval romances, and the Medieval romance is one of the forms from which the first novels grew.
For those who find this laughable, don’t worry—so did Chaucer, which is why The Miller’s Tale from The Canterbury Tales features an extended satire of the extremes and absurdities of such flattery…featuring common people even more common than Sparks’ characters rather than courtly royalty, and with more dirty jokes that make The Notebook quotes and Fifty Shades of Grey look tame by comparison.
So, whether or not you swoon to or scoff at The Notebook quotes may well depend on whether you’ve a more Medieval or Modern sense of love.