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The Savage God ; a Study of Suicide by A.…
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The Savage God ; a Study of Suicide (original 1971; edition 1973)

by A. Alvarez

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472531,363 (3.91)12
Member:w.h.auden
Title:The Savage God ; a Study of Suicide
Authors:A. Alvarez
Info:Random House, 299 pp.
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The Savage God: A Study of Suicide by A. Alvarez (1971)

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A rather personal but detailed study of suicide by a man whose life has been marled by it; he investigates it historically, theoretically and empirically -- he knew Plath and tried to tale his own life. Rather more insightful.than Minois. ( )
  noonaut | Jan 19, 2017 |
A literary and philosophical investigation on death and suicide, but this is something much more than that. This is a deeply personal book, and does not seem clinical or insensitive.

The book begins with a suicide and ends with an attempt. Sylvia Plath, the great tragedy of her death - and our dear author, who has mercifully survived, if only to tell us about this torment.

Sandwiched in between these very personal stories is a careful and tender analysis of the myths, beliefs, and possible grasping and contradictory attempts at understanding suicide. The curious contradictions of statistics - suicide rates are highest in post-Soviet countries, South Korea, Japan, and northern Europe - and lowest in Haiti, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Is it solely a factor of weather? Perhaps not - the majority of suicides are in May, and often on Wednesdays.

Next the three categories of suicide - as sacrifice, as way of escaping from physical sickness, as act of despair.

After this, historical attitudes, and suicide as literature. The Ancient classical societies recognized it as sacrifice, perhaps. So did the early Christians, who praised the defiant martyrs. By the Middle Ages, self-death, self-murder, was a grave sin. Dante consigned suicides to the 7th Circle of the Inferno, turned into trees and eaten by Harpies. The Romantics again respected the artists and creators who fell to suicide - The Sorrows of Young Werther spawned copypcats - and the Dadaists worshiped it. Death as an art itself. Radical political groups still do. Sacrifice for the nation, for an idea, a race, a belief.

The trend of the creator and self-destroyer continues today. Plath, John Berryman, Hunter S. Thompson, David F. Wallace. Part of a thorned lineage dating to Socrates. Alvarez postulates long and hard upon this bitter connection.

This is a deeply honest book, which will provide comfort and something like understanding to the sufferer, the mourner, and the mourner alike. Suicide today is still seldom spoken of, and Alvarez speaks of it with candor and sympathy. All the better for us all. ( )
1 vote HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
I wrote an article that mentions this book as a contributing factor for a further study of Sylvia Plath. You can read it here:

http://mewlhouse.hubpages.com/hub/Three-Decent-Poems-by-Sylvia-Plath ( )
  MSarki | Mar 29, 2013 |
This is a poet's take on suicide as literature and literary theory. It is suicide in literature and by poets, and why suicide has been appealing to poets (especially to the author's friend Sylvia Plath). ( )
  Fledgist | Jun 9, 2008 |
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Epigraph
After us the Savage God - W.B. Yeats
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To Anne
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When I was at school there was an unusually sweet-tempered rather disorganized physics master who was continually talking, in a joky way, about suicide.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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