The Happy Life: The Search for Contentment in the Modern World

David Malouf. Pantheon, $20 (112p) ISBN 978-0-307-90771-4
In a world filled with devastating natural disasters and discouraging economic declines, who can be happy? As award-winning novelist and poet Malouf (Rabsin) reminds us in this yawn-inducing meditation, “happiness is surely among the simplest of human emotions and the most spontaneous.” Drawing deeply from the philosophical wells of Plato, Heidegger, Jeremy Bentham, and others, he reminds us that philosophers have long distinguished the pleasures associated with material goods from the longer lasting contentment that comes from spiritual well-being. Happiness, for the ancients, lay in self-containment and self-sufficiency. Some 18th- and 19th-century thinkers promoted the idea that happiness occurs when individuals achieve certain goals, such as higher production or more land being brought under cultivation. Malouf reminds us that we often confuse the happy life with the good life, which we measure in material terms of proper food and housing, justice, civil liberty, and civil safety. In the end, after all his searching, Malouf comes to the less than profound conclusion that happiness grows out of a balanced life, and that happiness is subjective—different for every person—and fleeting, much like the lessons of this simplistic book. Agent: Sophy Williams, Black Inc. Books (Australia). (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 09/10/2012
Release date: 01/08/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 112 pages - 978-0-7011-8711-8
Open Ebook - 45 pages - 978-0-307-90782-0
Open Ebook - 112 pages - 978-1-4464-9973-3
Paperback - 95 pages - 978-1-86395-519-5
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