Summary of Against Happiness

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Against Happiness book summary
In this modern “Ode to Melancholy,” Eric Wilson offers unconventional advice: Be blue – it’s good for you.


8 Overall

7 Applicability

8 Innovation

6 Style


In this candid and unconventional book, English professor and humanist Eric G. Wilson positions himself as melancholy’s champion. He does everything but wave gloomy pom-poms as he extols its role in creativity and invention. As counterintuitive and loopy as his view may seem, Wilson makes a strong, lucid case for feeling glum. Indeed, reading Wilson’s book may inspire you trade in your grin for a wholehearted frown. If you seek a change from the deluge of cheery self-help tomes, or if you want to expand your outlook, then step out of the sunshine and into the shadows with this iconoclastic book. Although Wilson sometimes rambles or digresses in making his argument, getAbstract finds that his book thoughtfully affirms the power of negative thinking.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What melancholy is and how it benefits people
  • Why Americans want to be happy at any cost
  • How they have tried to eliminate sadness
  • Why they should rethink their attitudes toward it


Creativity’s Spur
Ernest Hemingway, Jackson Pollock, Winston Churchill and Sigmund Freud: These cultural icons and historical heavyweights were true melancholics, or, more simply put, depressed people. In every age and in every walk of life, you can find countless examples of other exceptionally...
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About the Author

Eric G. Wilson is an English professor at Wake Forest University. A former National Humanities Center fellow, he is the author of numerous books about the literary-psychology nexus.

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