How to Live. What To Do.: In search of ourselves in life and literature (Hardback)Josh Cohen (author)
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'This is a really beautiful book...It's a genuinely therapeutic read - it takes your particular sorrows and by sharing them seems to halve them' Nick Laird
'By the end of this wonderful book, we have learned to read its title not as a prescription but as a set of questions. Neither novels nor psychoanalysis promise to finally answer those questions. Instead, they invite us to look and listen - and to live in a way that lets us keep asking' TLS
From the truths and lies we tell about ourselves to the resonant creations of fiction, stories give shape and meaning to all our lives. Both a practicing psychoanalyst and a professor of literature, Josh Cohen has long been taken with the mutual echoes between the life struggles of the consulting room and the dramas of the novel. So what might the most memorable characters in literature tell us about how to live meaningfully?
In How to Live. What to Do, Cohen plots a course through the various stages of our lives, discovering in each the surprising and profound insights literature has to offer. Beginning with the playful mindset of Wonderland's Alice, we discover the resilience of Jane Eyre, the rebellious rage of Baldwin's Johnny Grimes and the catastrophic ambitions of Jay Gatsby, the turbulence of first love for Sally Rooney's Frances, the sorrows of marriage for Middlemarch's Dorothea Brooke, and the regrets and comforts of middle age for Rabbit Angstrom.
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Number of pages: 384
Weight: 486 g
Dimensions: 224 x 144 x 34 mm
Deftly linking literature and clinical stories Josh Cohen invites us into the ways we humans deal with inner conflicts, voids, losses, insecurities and abandonments. And he invites us to see how conflict - with its steps forward, to the side and back are part of the struggle to live a life as fully and as engaged as we can. * Susie Orbach *
Wonderful... a surprising and variously perceptive book about the forms of knowledge and solace that are available to us as long as we cultivate a sense of curiosity about ourselves, and other people. -- Leo Robson * New Statesman *
I loved it so much I rationed myself to a few pages a night to make it last through the long evenings of lockdown. It's compassionate, wise and thought-provoking- like having a gifted and sympathetic psychoanalyst at your side. By engaging with the problems of fictional characters, it returns us both to books we've loved and books we need to read. Above all, it raises important questions about human existence and challenges us all to lead richer, more examined lives. * Marcel Theroux *
The vertiginous feeling I had when reading this book was because I found myself, with each new chapter, falling more and more into something familiar but strange: my own life.
Josh Cohen never claims to know better than the rest of us how to live or what to do, yet his extraordinary capacity to shine a light on the barely-noticed details of our existences has an uncanny effect. Unlike those self-help books that promise to transform us, here is a book that, by reflecting our own lives back to us in ways we've not been able to imagine them before, probably does.
Josh Cohen is the new Erik Erikson with this excellent book. He elegantly puts together vignettes of his psychoanalytic work with patients, episodes from his own life, and reflections on novels to offer his personal account of the life-cycle. He carries his insights and his learning lightly, writing without technical terms or obscurity. He always gives the reader the impression that he is sharing his views with us, and invites us to have our own thoughts on the matter. This is book for anyone curious about and interested in emotional development. * Michael Brearley *
By the end of this wonderful book, we have learned to read its title not as a prescription but as a set of questions. Neither novels nor psychoanalysis promise to finally answer those questions. Instead, they invite us to look and listen - and to live in a way that lets us keep asking. * TLS *
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