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

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

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.

Tags: , , ,
  • Search

    • "Let's go swimming and have Martinis on the beach," she said. "Let's have a fabulous morning."
    • Goodbye, My Brother
    • by John Cheever
    • I tell myself that we are a long time underground and that life is short, but sweet.
    • Alcestis
    • by Euripides (translated by Richard Aldington)

    • What business Stevinus had in this affair,---is the greatest problem of all;---it shall be solved,---but not in the next chapter.
    • The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
    • by Laurence Sterne