Monday, August 13, 2012

Five of the best books about boredom

Peter Toohey is a professor in the Department of Greek and Roman Studies at the University of Calgary. His books include Melancholy, Love and Time: Boundaries of the Self in Ancient Literature and Boredom: A Lively History.

One of his five best books on boredom, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
by Alberto Moravia (1960)

Boredom has made life meaningless for Dino, the dreary narrator of Alberto Moravia's novel. Boredom has also spoiled his ambition to become a great painter. A deep thinker—by his own lights—Dino tries to cure his spiritual boredom with sex. Dino's feckless father, he tells us, was bored too, but his case was simpler. This shallow man became easily tired of the predictability of daily life, especially when it involved his wife, who came from a wealthy family, and their only son. Dino's father dealt with the tedium by borrowing money from his wife and setting off traveling the world. He perished eventually in a ferryboat accident in the Sea of Japan. Dino's mother found that it suited her amour-propre to believe that her husband's compulsive travels were prompted by a medical condition, dromomania, not simply by his boredom with her. Even though Dino's world-weariness comes through on every page, he never bores the reader, especially after he falls for a teenage artist's model, Cecilia, who seems as detached from life as he is—but doesn't appear to mind.
Read about another book on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Peter Toohey's Boredom: A Lively History.

Also see: Top 10 books about boredom.

--Marshal Zeringue