Against Happiness by Eric G. Wilson
In Praise of Melancholy

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Americans are addicted to happiness. When we’re not popping pills, we leaf through scientific studies that take for granted our quest for happiness, or read self-help books by everyone from armchair philosophers and clinical psychologists to the Dalai Lama on how to achieve a trouble-free life: Stumbling on Happiness; Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment; The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living. The titles themselves draw a stark portrait of the war on melancholy.  More than any other generation, Americans of today believe in the transformative power of positive thinking. But who says we’re supposed to be happy? Where does it say that in the Bible, or in the Constitution? 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. Francisco Goya, Emily Dickinson, Marcel Proust, and Abraham Lincoln were all confirmed melancholics. So enough Prozac-ing of our brains. Let’s embrace our depressive sides as the wellspring of creativity. What most people take for contentment, Wilson argues, is living death, and what the majority takes for depression is a vital force. In Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy, Wilson suggests it would be better to relish the blues that make humans people.

About Eric G. Wilson

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Eric G. Wilson is the Thomas H. Pritchard Professor of English at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He is the author of Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy, The Mercy of Eternity: A Memoir of Depression and Grace, and five books on the relationship between literature and psychology.
Published January 22, 2008 by Sarah Crichton Books. 180 pages
Genres: Self Help, Parenting & Relationships, Political & Social Sciences, Health, Fitness & Dieting. Non-fiction

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The New York Times

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A melancholic frets that Americans are addicted to happiness.

Mar 16 2008 | Read Full Review of Against Happiness: In Praise ...

Star Tribune

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1 bestseller on these days is "Happy For No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy From the Inside Out," notable not for its content but simply because it's the most recent in the long line of road-to-happiness self-help books.

Feb 01 2008 | Read Full Review of Against Happiness: In Praise ...

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