The Happy Life : The Search for Contentment in the Modern World, Hardback Book

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

3 out of 5 (1 rating)


In "The Happy Life" David Malouf addresses one of the most fundamental questions of all: what makes for a happy life?

In an age where our bookshelves are full of self-help volumes and tales of perfect romantic love, his discussion is particularly relevant.

He asks why, when so many of the essential 'unhappinesses' - premature death, famine, plague, material poverty - have largely disappeared in the developed world, does happiness continue to elude us?

With elegance and insight, David Malouf finds new and old ways to talk about contentment and the self.

He returns to the wisdom of the classics, and discusses how, thanks to Thomas Jefferson, happiness became a 'right'; in a dialogue on Rubens and Rembrandt he explores the sensual happiness of the flesh; he covers the difficulties of the modern world's obsession with consumption; and, finally the consolation and sympathy provided by art and literature.

In luminous prose, with ideas to savour and reflect upon, Malouf distills millennia of thought and philosophy in "The Happy Life" into a fascinating and tangible argument.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 112 pages, Illustrations
  • Publisher: Vintage Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Literary essays
  • ISBN: 9780701187118

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I really love the way this book prodded at me and sent me off on my own mini-pursuits of the meaning of happiness (cheese, apparently, followed by historically inaccurate but aesthetically pleasing period movies). I loved the portion in which Malouf talks about the kind of happiness one might have wanted in ye olde days, that which comes from a sense of peace, a stillness and quiet.<br/><br/>Malouf makes the observation that today we seem to want the opposite, cramming every still corner with activity, perhaps to try and ignore the ultimate peace, stillness and quiet. It was a portion that led me to further grim thought, but one I enjoyed all the same (so one Nicholas Parsons point for that then). <br/><br/>For a light and short read, I think there was a substantial amount of food for thought here. Also, I have a feeling that books on happiness that are too long are only going to end up making you miserable, so, nice little read.<br/><br/>

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