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Old Age: Journey into Simplicity Paperback – March 1, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'Better to spend a day meditating on a single page of her writing than to read a stack of books on enlightenment.' -- Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul and The Planets Within 'Helen Luke is a unique voice that carries beautiful passion, feeling, and clarity. She is clearly one of our most precious national treasures.' -- Helen Pinkola Estes, author of Women Who Run with the Wolves

From the Inside Flap

In this classic text on aging wisely, the renowned Jungian analyst Helen M. Luke reflects on the final journeys described in Homer's Odyssey, Shakespeare's King Lear and The Tempest, and T. S. Eliot's "Little Gidding," and also on suffering. In examining some of the great masterpieces of literature produced by writers at the end of their lives, she elucidates the difference between growing old and disintegrating and encourages us to grow emotionally and mentally in this culminating stage of our own lives. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Lindisfarne Books (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584200790
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584200796
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #142,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By L. A. Robinson on June 24, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like her former partner Robert A. Johnson, Helen Luke is a master of rendering the psychological meanings in great literature understandable and relevant to all people wishing to gain a deeper level of understanding about the growtn of the human soul. Having plumbed the depths of her own psycho-spiritual aging process(Such Stuff As Dreams are Made On), Ms. Luke has created a work fusing literary scholarship and personal experience into a guide for all of us to follow towards the inevitable. When the time comes for me to plant my oar (read her interpretation of The Odyssey)and turn towards the life of prayer, song and storytelling I will be eternally grateful to have had this wonderful Wise Woman as my guide. Deserving of a wide readership.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As someone in my mid sixties, I really appreciate the insights in this book. There are many books that deny the reality of old age or make jokes about it or describe ways to manage it, but this is the only book I've come across that really talks about what the transition into old age can represent in a person's development. I've had a few older friends who've given me some sense of what the challenges of aging are about, but this is the most eloquent evocation of what can be learned from the aging process that I've ever come across. I confess I have a fairly Jungian way of looking at life so this book fits well into my world view, but in the past, I've felt that even Jungians tend to describe the psyche's journey through life by discussing youth and the journey through midlife and the tasks of the last half of one's life, but I haven't seen anyone else really talk about actually being old and dying. It's more as if you acquire consciousness and then drop off a cliff. It's not that there's hasn't been the implication that somehow you acquire consciousness and wisdom, but how this is actually done through the real suffering of losing the components of what you believed to be essential parts of your life and your personality is rarely addressed. Old age, as I'm discovering, is all about loss. Loss of abilities you once had, loss of health, loss of loved ones, loss of what were once central beliefs. It is only in the willing relinquishment of everything to which you think you need to hold on, that one's soul can develop. I don't say this glibly. I'm not at all sure yet how well, I personally will make this transition. What I really appreciate is the map that Helen Luke has provided of this very difficult terrain. Using analogies from classical literature, she has illuminated the path. I'd like to thank her for doing so. Her writing is wise, brave, and really valuable.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Naturally this book would appeal to me since I am old, but I encourage you to note that we all are aging and this fantastic book offers an artful approach to the process. Luke, a renowned Jungian analyst, uses works of Homer, Shakespeare, and T.S. Eliot to deepen our understanding of aging. For example, from King Lear we learn that the proper occupations of the aging are purposeless activities such as prayer, song, telling old tales, and laughter - great counters to our busy, accomplishment-oriented society. From Prospero in The Tempest we learn how the difficult lesson of forgiveness allows the "ultimate freedom of the spirit." This requires letting go of past achievements and, in our growing weakness, learning to depend on others and recognize our kinship with all things.

This book is so full of gems it requires reading a page or a paragraph at a time and spending time digesting it. Here is one of my favorite nuggets: "We can do something towards tracking down some of the continual evasions of the ego by uncovering our fear of humiliation. From this fear of degradation in our own eyes or in the eyes of others, real or imagined, comes a dead weight of moods and depression. For the truly humble person no humiliation exixts." We all need such wise mentors to guide us.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book. Helen Luke's observations on coming to peace with reaching old age are brilliant. Her tying them to some of my favorite works of literature--books, plays, poems that speak to ME--makes this a brilliant work in fact. But this kindle edition I bought for my tablet reader just completely sucks. It is obviously a machine-generated text-to-ebook scan of the printed version that no human has ever looked at for quality control. It is riddled with typos. Shakespeare is misspelled several times. Prospero's epilogue from The Tempest is mangled two of the three times the lines are quoted. Several other sentences are head scratchers due to misprinted words, and one or two are seriously unintelligible. If Amazon is going to offer kindle editions, they should at least insert a human proofreader into the process. Amazon, be very ashamed.
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A wise and thoughtful guide to the beauty and joy of aging, to taking up a new and important role in community and family life and to the soul's final journey in this life. A bonus for those who love Shakespeare whose last plays she draws on to discuss these important themes. It's the kind of book you read over and over again, each time drawing more deeply from her rich reservoir.
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Format: Paperback
I have read this book several times. I'm re-reading it again. Some would call the material dense. I call it rich. I think I started my first reading of "Old Age" when I turned 60. Now I'm almost 70. I picked it up again yesterday and thought, "Yesss! This is just right for me now." I feel nurtured and guided every time I read it. A caution--this book is not for sissies. If you use botox, don't bother reading it.
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