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Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy by Eric G. Wilson

Unfortunately, I can’t get my hands on a copy of this book. (?!?) For now, I’ll just have to make do with this article that I found in the LA Times. If the article is any indication, it promises to be a very interesting read.

In April of 1819, right around the time that he began to suffer the first symptoms of tuberculosis — the disease that had already killed his mother and his beloved brother, Tom — the poet John Keats sat down and wrote, in a letter to his brother, George, the following question: “Do you not see how necessary a World of Pains and troubles is to school an Intelligence and make it a Soul?”

…We need sorrow, constant and robust, to make us human, alive, sensitive to the sweet rhythms of growth and decay, death and life.

There was a magnificent exhibit in Paris a couple of years ago on the theme of melancholy with around 250 works (mostly paintings). Here’s a very good article about it with some excellent historical background.

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