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Status Anxietyby Alain De Botton
Synopses & Reviews
Every adult life could be said to be defined by two great love stories. The first--the story of our quest for sexual love--is well known and well charted. . . . The second--the story of our quest for love from the world--is a more secret and shameful tale. And yet this second love story is no less intense than the first.
This is a book about an almost universal anxiety that rarely gets mentioned directly: an anxiety about what others think of us, about whether we're judged a success or a failure, a winner or a loser. This is a book about status anxiety.
Alain de Botton, best-selling author of The Consolations of Philosophy and The Art of Travel, asks--with lucidity and charm--where our worries about status come from and what, if anything, we can do to surmount them. With the help of philosophers, artists and writers, he examines the origins of status anxiety (ranging from the consequences of the French Revolution to our secret dismay at the success of our friends) before revealing ingenious ways in which people have been able to overcome their worries in the search for happiness. We learn about sandal-less philosophers and topless bohemians, about the benefits of putting skulls on our sideboards, and about looking at ancient ruins.
The result is a book that isn't just highly entertaining and thought-provoking, but that is genuinely wise and helpful, too.
From the Hardcover edition.
Drawing from the fields of history, psychology, politics, and economics, a close up look at the anxieties we suffer associated with a pursuit of status explains how humans have sought to cope with their fears through philosophy, art, religion, and bohemia and offers thought-provoking suggestions on other ways to deal with the problem. Reprint. 35,000 first printing.
Anyone who’s ever lost sleep over an unreturned phone call or the neighbor’s Lexus had better read Alain de Botton’s irresistibly clear-headed new book, immediately. For in its pages, a master explicator of our civilization and its discontents turns his attention to the insatiable quest for status, a quest that has less to do with material comfort than with love. To demonstrate his thesis, de Botton ranges through Western history and thought from St. Augustine to Andrew Carnegie and Machiavelli to Anthony Robbins.
Whether it’s assessing the class-consciousness of Christianity or the convulsions of consumer capitalism, dueling or home-furnishing, Status Anxiety is infallibly entertaining. And when it examines the virtues of informed misanthropy, art appreciation, or walking a lobster on a leash, it is not only wise but helpful.
About the Author
\Alain de Botton is the author of three previous works of fiction and three of nonfiction, including The Art of Travel, The Consolations of Philosophy, and How Proust Can Change Your Life (all available in paperback from Vintage Books). He lives in London.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
Causes: Lovelessness — Expectation — Meritocracy — Snobbery — Dependence — Solutions: Philosophy — Art — Politics — Religion — Bohemia.
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