Synopses & Reviews
An entertaining and insightful exploration of schadenfreude: the deliciously dark and complex joy we've all felt, from time to time, at news of others' misfortunes.
Your friend's fairytale marriage hits a rough patch.
Your perfect co-worker is chewed out by the boss.
A politician is caught cheating on their taxes.
So why are you smiling?
We all know the pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune. The Germans named this furtive delight in another's failure schadenfreude (from schaden, damage, and freude, joy), and it has perplexed philosophers and psychologists for centuries. Why can it be so satisfying to witness another's distress? And what, if anything, should we do about it?
Schadenfreude illuminates this hidden emotion, inviting readers to reflect on its pleasures, and how we use other people's miseries to feel better about ourselves. Written in an exploratory, evocative form, it weaves examples from literature, philosophy, film, and music together with personal observation and historical and cultural analysis. And in today's world of polarized politics, twitter trolls and "sidebars of shame," it couldn't be timelier.
Engaging, insightful, and entertaining, Schadenfreude makes the case for thinking afresh about the role this much-maligned emotion plays in our lives -- perhaps even embracing it.