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Other titles in the Modern Library series:
Under the Influence: The Literature of Addiction (Modern Library)by Rebecc Shannonhouse
Synopses & Reviews
Drawing on two centuries of important literary and historical writings, Rebecca Shannonhouse has shaped a remarkable collection of works that are, in turn, tragic, compelling, hilarious, and enlightening. Together, these selections comprise a profound and truthful portrait of the life experience known as addiction.
Under the Influence offers classic selections from fiction, memoirs, and essays by authors such as Tolstoy, Cheever, Parker, and Poe. Also included are topical gems by writers who illuminate the causes, dangers, pleasures, and public perceptions surrounding people consumed by excessive use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Recent provocative works by Abraham Verghese, the Barthelme brothers, Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, and others expand and modernize the definition of addiction to include sex, gambling, and food. Together, these incomparable writings give shape and meaning to the raw experience of uncontrollable urges.
Shannonhouses recent anthology, Out of Her Mind: Women Writing on Madness, is also available as a Modern Library Paperback.
About the Author
1. How do you define addictions? How does the portrayal of addiction found in "The Pathology of Sex" by Abraham Verghese compare with that presented by Thomas De Quincey in Confessions of an English Opium-Eater?
2. Has the definition of addiction changed over time? How does Leo Tolstoy's understanding of addiction, as presented in his 1891 essay "The Ethics of Wine-Drinking and Tobacco Smoking," compare with Kate Braverman's contemporary understanding in "They Take a Photograph of You When You First Get Here"?
3. What commonalities and/or differences can be found in the various types of addiction described in this book? Is the "addiction" described in Double Down: Reflections of Gambling and Loss by Frederick and Steven Barthelme comparable to that found in Holy Hunger: A Memoir of Desire by Margaret Bullitt-Jonas?
4. Do you believe that societal attitudes about addiction have changed over time? If so, how? Are the attitudes presented in "How Children Are Made Drunkards" by William Lee Howard accurate today?
5. "The Sorrows of Gin" by John Cheever paints a fictional portrait of the effects of addiction on a family member. Do you think it's accurate? If so, how? Are there other selections in this book that further illuminate these effects?
6. What constitutes recovery from addiction? Which selections portray this most clearly?
7. Have these writings changed your understanding of addiction? If so, how?
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