Synopses & Reviews
With uncommon humanity, candor, wit, and erudition, award-winning author Andrew Solomon takes the reader on a journey of incomparable range and resonance into the most pervasive of family secrets. His contribution to our understanding not only of mental illness but also of the human condition is truly stunning.
The Noonday Demon examines depression in personal, cultural, and scientific terms. Drawing on his own struggles with the illness and interviews with fellow sufferers, doctors and scientists, policymakers and politicians, drug designers and philosophers, Solomon reveals the subtle complexities and sheer agony of the disease. He confronts the challenge of defining the illness and describes the vast range of available medications, the efficacy of alternative treatments, and the impact the malady has had on various demographic populations around the world and throughout history. He also explores the thorny patch of moral and ethical questions posed by emerging biological explanations for mental illness.
The depth of human experience Solomon chronicles, the range of his intelligence, and his boundless curiosity and compassion will change the reader's view of the world.
"An amazingly rich and absorbing work....In its flow of insights and its scope encompassing not only the author's ordeal but also keen inquiries into the biological, social, and political aspects of the illness The Noonday Demon has achieved a level of authority that should assure its place among the few indispensable works on depression." William Styron, author of Darkness Visible and Sophie's Choice
"The Noonday Demon is immensely readable and should be universally useful. It is indeed an atlas of depression, sensitively chronicling the illness's characteristics, social and cultural history, modes of treatment, and prospects. What makes it remarkable is a highly individual blend of the personal and the dispassionate, the work of a benign intelligence." Harold Bloom
"Compulsively readable, harrowing and helpful, The Noonday Demon is an act of redemption in an epidemic of sorrow." Louise Erdrich
"The Noonday Demon is an eloquent, harrowintg account of melancholy and dread. It informs deeply in every manner personal, scientific, historical, and political about the roots, experience, and treatment of clinical depression. It is an important book about suffering, but an even more immportant one about hope." Kay Redfield Jamison, author of An Unquiet Mind
"In examining depression as a cultural phenomenon, he cites many literary melancholics Virginia Woolf, Samuel Beckett, John Milton, Shakespeare, John Keats, and George Eliot as well as such thinkers as Freud and Hegel, to map out his 'atlas' of the condition. Smart, empathetic, and exhibiting a wide and resonant knowledge of the topic, Solomon has provided an enlightening and sobering window onto both the medical and imaginative worlds of depression." Publishers Weekly
"The backbone of this superb work is the author's narrative of his own struggles with severe depression, his musings on its multifarious causes and on the role that his privileged socioeconomic status has played in its successful management. Solomon also interviewed scores of other depression sufferers about their trials with treatment and visited Africa, Greenland, and Cambodia in search of different cultural perspectives. This journalistic approach allows Solomon to convey a great deal of information in the form of fascinating, if sometimes horrific, life stories. This compassionate work that never simplifies complex matters is essential for all collections." Library Journal
author of A Boy's Own Story and Flâneur
The Noonday Demon is the ideal and definitive book on depression. There is nothing falsely consoling about this account, which is the opposite of a bromide, unless to be accompanied by so much intelligence and understanding is a consolation in itself.
W. G. Sebaldauthor of The EmigrantsThe Noonday Demon explores the subterranean realms of an illness that is on the point of becoming endemic and that, more than anything else, mirrors the present state of our civilization and its profound discontents. As wide-ranging as it is incisive, this astonishing work is a testimony both to the muted suffering of millions and to the great courage it must have taken the author to set his mind against it.
Martha Manning, Ph.D.Clinical psychologist and author of Undercurrents: A Life Beneath the SurfaceSolomon is able to examine depression in its considerable darkness, with an unblinking look at its sometimes lethal agonies. His greatest brilliance, however, is in his capacity to consider depression in the light, to recognize that there are elements of the experience that challenge its sufferers to learn, to change, and to salvage joy wherever they may find it.
James Watsondiscoverer of DNA structure, Nobel Prize winner, and author of The Double HelixA brilliant, kaleidoscopic portrayal of the human experience of depression.
About the Author
Andrew Solomon is the author of The Irony Tower: Soviet Artists in a Time of Glasnost, A Stone Boat, and The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, winner of fourteen national awards, including the 2001 National Book Award, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and a New York Times bestseller, now published in twenty-two languages. He is completing a PhD in psychology at Cambridge. A member of the boards of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and Columbia Medical School, Solomon is also a Lecturer in Psychiatry at Cornell and Special Advisor on LGBT affairs to the Yale School of Psychiatry. He is a dual national, and lives in New York and London with his husband and children.
Table of Contents
A Note on Method