by Anthony Storr
When from our better selves we have too long
Been part of the hurrying world, and droop,
Sick of its business, of its pleasures tired,
How gracious, how benign, is Solitude.
- Wordsworth, The Prelude
Anthony Storr contrasts the significance of human relationships with the power of solitude in this engaging look at the nature of solitude. The importance of the impersonal part of the human condition and its value for creativity and life is the message of Storr's thoughtful meditation and exegesis. On a voyage consisting of twelve chapters or excursions into the variety of solitude and its meaning the author considers aspects from the "hunger of the imagination" to the "search for coherence" in one's life with digressions into depression and its counterparts. Containing a wealth of references to writers from Plato to Freud (plus artists and other creative types) the book uses examples of creativity and healthy living that have flourished in solitude. While the creative among us have contributed to the benefit of all, Storr suggests that everyone can benefit from some moments of solitude, if not a life based upon it. The desire for human companionship is important, but it should not exclude a realization and participation in moments of solitude. This book expands the possibility for human flourishing by considering the impersonal side of our human nature.
Solitude by Anthony Storr. HarperCollins, London. 1997 (1988)
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