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Summary Book

The Double Flame – Octavio Paz

The Double Flame is a fascinating essay written by Nobel Prize winner Octavio Paz. It was written and published in 1993. It is one of his most widely read essays, devoted to a subject little discussed in this way in Western literature, the relationship between love, eroticism and sexuality.



The double flame is an essay to the fullest extent of its definition. It is a study that explores and analyzes a topic usually in a didactic way. The author chooses a theme and, in prose, makes a personal interpretation of that theme.

Title-content relationship

The title The Double Flame is intended to show the two main themes of this essay, sexuality and love. For Octavio Paz, this concept of the double flame described as the most subtle section of fire that can be seen in a pyramid shape and that contains in itself a red flame, which the author relates to sexuality and within it a blue flame that is identified in this essay with love. So the title is an allegory for the relationship between sexuality and love.

Summary and Synopsis

In the essay La llama Doble, Octavio Paz reflects on love, sexuality and eroticism. This topic starts from his perspective that the human being tends to study science and other subjects with great effort, but that studies about this phenomenon called love and its relationship with the human being are not commonly studied.

In this essay, Paz talks about love and eroticism from the point of view of western society. In this respect, the author refers to sexuality as something that clashes with western societies despite being needed. This is because a society needs the reproductive power of sexuality to survive.

In addition to this, Paz reflects on eroticism. He defines it in his essay as something that is purely sexual although he usually justly refuses the reproductive function that makes the latter a necessary function. When speaking of love then, it is more easily differentiated from the previous two, which gives rise to the construction of this essay.

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The author makes a comprehensive study of the vision of love from the point of view of some philosophers like Plato or Diotima and how that vision has passed down to our era. Paz covers certain things like the myth of Eros and Psyche while spinning these visions with the way in which sexuality, eroticism and love are seen in our societies.

This essay studies the perception of love through history and the relationship of these themes with religion and philosophy as well as the way in which these concepts have been changing throughout the historical ages.

To end this essay, Paz decides to do a study on morality dedicated to good customs. His point of view is one in which certain practices such as promiscuity and the desire for money are said to be the worst enemies of the concept of love since they distort its essence.


The way Paz decides to do this essay on love and eroticism makes it a really interesting read. It is not a book on romantic stories or sentimentality, it is a careful study on the subject of love, eroticism and sexuality in Western society. How their vision has changed over time and where our vision of love comes from.


“Love has been and is the great subversion of the West”
“Love is an attraction to a unique person: to a body and to a soul. Love is choice; eroticism, acceptance “
“The first note that differentiates eroticism from sexuality is the infinite variety of ways in which it manifests itself, at all times and in all lands”