Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy

Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy


By (author) Eric G Wilson

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  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 166 pages
  • Dimensions: 124mm x 185mm x 15mm | 136g
  • Publication date: 5 March 2009
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0374531668
  • ISBN 13: 9780374531669
  • Edition: 1
  • Sales rank: 108,246

Product description

We are addicted to happiness. More than any other generation, Americans today believe in the power of positive thinking. But who says we're supposed to be happy? In "Against Happiness," the scholar Eric G. Wilson argues that melancholia is necessary to any thriving culture, that it is the muse of great literature, painting, music, and innovation--and that it is the force underlying original insights. So enough Prozac-ing of our brains. Let's embrace our depressive side as the wellspring of creativity. It's time to throw off the shackles of positivity and relish the blues thatmake us human.

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Author information

Eric G. Wilson is Thomas H. Pritchard Professor of English at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He is the author of five books on the relationship between literature and psychology.

Review quote

“A wicked, wise and cheerfully misanthropic treatise.” —SARA NELSON, Publishers Weekly  “Mr. Wilson's case for the dark night of the soul brings a much needed corrective to today's mania for cheerfulness. One would almost say that, in its eloquent contrarianism and earnest search for meaning, "Against Happiness" lifts the spirits.” — Colin McGinn, "The Wall Street Journal" “[Wilson has] the passionate soul of a nineteenth-century romantic who, made wise by encounters with his own personal darkness, invites readers to share his reverence for nature and exuberance for life. Providing a powerful literary complement to recent psychological discussions of melancholy . . . this treatment is variously gloomy and ecstatic, infuriating and even inspiring.” —"Booklist" “An impassioned, compelling, dare I say poetic, argument on behalf of those who ‘labor in the fields of sadness’. . . a loose and compelling ar