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Cheerfulness

A Literary and Cultural History

Timothy Hampton

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Belletristik / Essays, Feuilleton, Literaturkritik, Interviews

Beschreibung

A timely story of a forgotten emotion

Cheerfulness: A Literary and Cultural History tells a new story about the cultural imagination of the West. Timothy Hampton shows how cheerfulness—a momentary uptick in emotional energy, a temporary lightening of spirit—functions as a theme in the work of major artists from Shakespeare to Louis Armstrong. The book studies both the philosophical construal of cheerfulness—as a theme in Protestant theology, a focus of medical writing, a topic in Enlightenment psychology, and a category of modern aesthetics—as well as its role as a structuring element in stories and poems. Hampton moves lightly across the work of such crucial figures as Montaigne, Hume, Austen, Emerson, Dickens, and Nietzsche, to trace a new history of the emotional life of European and American culture. In a conclusion, on cheerfulness in pandemic days, Hampton stresses the importance of lightness of mind under the pressure of catastrophe. Hampton offers an original argument on a topic never before systematically studied, casting new light on the history of literature, on the intersections of culture and psychology, and on the history of emotions.

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