By Australia’s greatest contemporary author, an elegant, succinct meditation on what makes for a happy life. ;-)
“Happiness surely is among the simplest of human emotions and the most spontaneous,” says David Malouf. But what exactly are we looking for when we chase happiness? At this particular moment in history, privileged, industrialized nations have lessened much of what makes us unhappy: widespread poverty, illness, famine. Yet we are still unfulfilled, turning increasingly to yoga, church, Match.com, drugs, clinical therapy and retail therapy. What is at the root of our collective stress, and how can we find our way to contentment?
Drawing on mythology, philosophy, art and literature, Malouf traces our conception of happiness throughout history, distilling centuries of thought into a lucid narrative. He discusses the creation myths of ancient Greece and the philosophical schools of Athens, analyzes Thomas Jefferson’s revolutionary declaration that “the pursuit of happiness” is a right, explores the celebration of sensual delight in Rembrandt and Rubens and offers a perceptive take on a modern society growing larger and more impersonal.
With wisdom and insight, Malouf investigates that simplest, most spontaneous of feelings and urges us to do the same.
About the Author
David Malouf is one of Australia's most celebrated writers. In a career spanning four decades, he has written poetry, essays, fiction and opera libretti. In 1996, his novel Remembering Babylon was awarded the first international IMPAC Dublin literary award. Malouf's short stories were collected and published in one volume, The Complete Stories, in 2007, which was shortlisted for the inaugural Australian prime minister's literary award the following year. His latest book is Revolving Days: Selected Poems (2008).
Praise for The Happy Life
“These musings on happiness by an eminent Australian novelist and poet revolve around the question of why it eludes so many of us…Malouf’s prose is as clear as his quiet, unexpected conclusions.”
—The New Yorker
“What is happiness, anyway? In this slim volume, the topic is covered…in five linked essays, each considering aspects of happiness, from social to sexual…rich and thoughtful…a useful riddle for midwinter meditation.”
—The Boston Globe
“A brief but piercing meditation.”
—The Los Angeles Times
“Penetrating…Malouf eloquently weighs the appeal of material goods and well-being against the heft or morality and individual longing for something we can’t always articulate.”
“Engaging…A slim volume of meditations on the conundrum that is happiness.”
“The Happy Life is no self-help book, and David Malouf is not naive enough to suggest he has an easy cure for our persistent angst. But for anyone who wants an intelligent primer to begin the process of asking some of the questions whose answers may relieve it, Malouf offers a useful starting point.”
Praise for David Malouf
“David Malouf is one of our finest writers, a poet with an ear for language that transforms an interesting concept into a classic meditation on the role of chance in each of our lives.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“A richly imagistic writer, philosophical and literary in the best sense.”
—The Washington Post Book World
“A first-rate writer—–a sensitive historian of the spirit.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“[Malouf is] a storyteller of achievement, for whom simple things gracefully become totems for deeper thought.”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Malouf’s prose is delicate, marvelously alert to the natural world, and endowed with a quality that has one name only: wisdom.”
—The Sydney Morning Herald