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The Art of Happiness by John Cowper Powys
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The Art of Happiness

by John Cowper Powys

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[b]Wednesday, August 16, 2006 6:19 AM
Powys, John Cowper The Art of Happiness
New Haven PL (via ILL) 1935[/b]

This must be one of the first books ever published as a pure "self-help" text, and not as a make a million dollars Napoleon Hill sort of work. (Indeed, I wonder to what extent one may have read the other, though Powys claims he'd only reads old English authors.) Rather amusing that several references are made to the "dawning of the Age of Aquarius" , since this was written in 1935.

But as to the "meat" of this text, I actually had to force myself to read through it twice, and I still have no real idea what his central thesis was. I think he offers this work as a practical response to getting through life by being happy, and he sets forth three techniques on how to get there, whose odd names have already slipped my mind. I think he also actually overstates the misery the average man feels, as he goes on page after page in this sort of vein. His views as to gender differences are downright odd as in young men should not be encouraged to read novels, young women should, the necessity of husband and wife to lie to each other to get through their daily lives, and how horrible he feels it is for young women to live at home with their mothers. I doubt I shall ever have the opportunity to revisit this text, but it wouldn't surprise me if I look back at it in time to come…and scratch my head and ask myself just what the hell was going on here. ( )
  worldsedge | Aug 25, 2006 |
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Any discussion about what is the purpose of life, or about what is the good life, or about what is the ideal life, carries a rather hollow sound in these reckless and cynical times; but, after all, such questions are being dealt with, at least in minor issues, by the individual conscience every day, and if a writer has the gall to bring up this ancient problem, and the wit to apply it to modern conditions, I cannot see that he is beating the air.
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