Review: The Hidden Pleasures of Life by Theodore Zeldin


The story of a search for a new art of living. How can one escape from work colleagues who are bores and from organisations that thrive on stress? What new priorities can people give to their private lives? When the romantic ideal is disappointing, how else can affections be cultivated? If only a few can become rich, what substitute is there for dropping out? If religions and nations disagree, what other outcomes are possible beyond strife or doubt? Where there is too little freedom, what is the alternative to rebellion? When so much is unpredictable, what can replace ambition?

Theodore Zeldin explores these questions and more, excavating an inner peace that can be cultivated in the future. (from Goodreads).

Personal Take: Zeldin’s tone in The Hidden Pleasures is very soothing. There is a certain meticulousness in the questions he asks and explores. He weaves in stories and statistics that are both relevant and enjoyable. It is deeply philosophical that I agreed with what he said, and disagreed with others. The one thing I found lacking while reading the book though, is a definitive stance from Zeldin on these questions. He kind of left it for the readers to decide, and while that’s not bad, I was curious to know how he, the writer, would answer these very questions that he posed to us.

This is only a minor frustration though. I enjoyed reading the book, and dwelling on what he put forth.

Audience: Older readers as it can be dense.


Other recommendations: Zeldin has written a few books about the human experience, among them Conversation: How Talk Can Change Our Lives and An Intimate History of Humanity.

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