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A Philosophy of Boredom

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1861892171
ISBN-10: 1861892179
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Editorial Reviews


"An amusing, learned, and articulate philosophical study of one of humanity's prime afflictions. . . Svendsen has a way with words, and, unlike many writers of philosophy books, is also blessed with a sly wit and a thorough knowledge of popular culture. You would be hard pressed to find a better book to make do with this year than this wonderful little one, which is, somehow, despite the desolation at its core, oddly uplifting."
(Phil Miller The Glasgow Herald 2005-02-01)

"A good, solid practical work of philosophy, in the tradition of Aristotle's Ethics . . . he has a light touch and a playful attitude."
(Tom Hodgkinson The New Statesman 2005-03-14)

"When an investigation into boredom is done well, as it is in A Philosophy of Boredom, it is positively gripping."
(Times Literary Supplement 2005-01-01)

"A fascinatingly modern essay on ennui and emptiness . . . Svendsen's thesis is so cool that boredom, linked with desire rather than need, suddenly seems like a desirable state of being in an agitated age."

(The Times 2005-04-30)

"Quite fascinating"-The Times Online

(Ben Macintyre The Times Online 2005-04-02)

"Lars Svendsen, author of A Philosophy of Boredom, is anything but boring on the subject."

(Harry Mount The Daily Telegraph 2005-03-10)

"For a serious work of philosophy, Boredom exhibits a light touch and impressive pop-cultural range. . . . It's not boring."

(Village Voice 2005-06-08)

"Far from boring, this is a highly accessible and entertaining study."
(The Age 2004-04-06)

"An engaging read . . . touches upon many points which indeed are central to anthropological concerns. . . . I highly recommend this book."
(Yasmine Musharbash Australian Journal of Anthropology 2006-01-01)

"Witty. . . . Unlike Scandinavian philosophers known for sterile prose styles, Svendsen combines droll dismissal of statistical research, incisive readings of boredom art . . . and etymological ponderings of the nuances among boredom. . . . You will not be bored reading him for the first time."
(Carlin Romano Philadelphia Inquirer 2006-08-06)

About the Author

Lars Svendsen is associate professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Bergen in Norway. He is the author of many books, including Man, Morals and Genes: A Critique of Biologism and The Philosophy of Evil.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books (April 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861892179
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861892171
  • Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #225,520 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Jarod Kintz on September 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
When one is superficially bored, one can easily distract oneself by making paper airplanes, such as the one that graces the cover of this book. But only when one is profoundly bored can a work of art such as this book be born.

For nearly four hours my eyes were glued to the pages of Svendsen's amazing book, and then finally, after many tears and shrilly screams, I managed to pull them off the paper without ripping the sensitive skin on my eyelids and actually read the book. And what a book it turned out to be!

It's everything you ever wanted to know about boredom and more, even though there are no directions on how to make paper airplanes or origami mustaches, although images of Nietzsche's glorious mustache kept coming to mind and making my upper lip itch as he was discussed in various parts of this book.

You'll be astounded at how Svendsen explores the once dark and mysterious subject of boredom like a spelunker in a cave, and ultimately emerges in the end holding a few stalactites of truth that were formed by the seemingly endless and measured drips of water that make us aware that time is passing, and also how small and insignificant we are in comparison to this cave called life.

This book will change your outlook on boredom, life, and Kierkegaard's inability to grow a mustache (Ok, so maybe not), and it will enlighten you in a way that is both entertaining and entertaining. Did I mention that this book is entertaining? Well it is, so if you are in the mood to think and be dazzled by a modern day philosophical giant, then I suggest you pick up a copy of this book.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Auke on August 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
First of all, let me admit that I've never read a purely philosophical work before and, aside from some random thoughts on Nietzsche and Plato, I probably know less about philosophy than you do.

That said, I cannot say this is a groundbreaking work which will change the way you look at the world, *however*, I have personally certainly gotten some insights in the way one /can/ (Svendsen tries to be careful not to judge; more on that later) think about the way people handle "existential" boredom. Svendsen starts by trying to give some possible definitions for the boredom he'd like to discuss, which is very interesting already. Part two, Stories of Boredom, I didn't find particularly interesting, although I guess it could all make sense if you've actually read the work Svendsen refers to.

Don't misunderstand the three stars I'm giving this book. It is a book about boredom, and that doesn't make the book very attractive. However, I have very much enjoyed the thoughts in this book while waiting for the bus to arrive and while waiting for my turn at the dentist - ie., when I was bored. If you're studying philosophy already and have read the works Svendsen uses a long time ago, this book may be less interesting than if you're looking for a quick intro to this subject.

Do note that this is not a self-help book. Svendsen gives some thoughts on what existential boredom is, and where it could have originated, but does not in a direct sense give solutions. To quote the preface, "[...] I intend to present less of a cohesive argument, more a series of sketches that will hopefully bring us closer to an understanding of boredom.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on October 8, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fascinating stuff.
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