Thursday, November 13, 2008

Next Up: The Conquest of Happiness

Must Stick With The Plan. Must Stick With The Plan. And so on. So The Conquest of Happiness it is. My copy is a Liveright Paperback (W.W. Norton), the reset version of 1996. The original copyright is listed as being issued to Horace Liveright, Inc., in 1930. We have come across Horace before, as the publisher of Marriage and Morals (just one year before The Conquest of Happiness) and also as an anti-censorship figure.

The 191 pages comprise 17 chapters plus a single-paragraph Preface; similar to the layout of Proposed Roads to Freedom, the chapters are divided into two sections. The first section (chapters 1 through 9) is “Causes of Unhappiness” and the second section (chapters 10 through 17) is, as you guessed, “Causes of Happiness.” Prior to the contents is an excerpt from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass – an excerpt that suggests that non-human animals manage to avoid unhappiness. The Preface notes that The Conquest of Happiness is an effort to record thoughts “inspired by what I hope is common sense [p. 11].” Russell has written the book, he announces, in the belief “that many people who are unhappy could become happy by well-directed effort…[p. 11].”

Here are the titles of the 17 chapters:

1. What Makes People Unhappy?
2. Byronic Unhappiness
3. Competition
4. Boredom and Excitement
5. Fatigue
6. Envy
7. The Sense of Sin
8. Persecution Mania
9. Fear of Public Opinion
10. Is Happiness Still Possible?
11. Zest
12. Affection
13. The Family
14. Work
15. Impersonal Interests
16. Effort and Resignation
17. The Happy Man

Onwards to Part One, “Causes of Unhappiness.”

P.S. -- An electronic edition of The Conquest of Happiness is available from Questia, but I am not sure of the rules for access.

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