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On the Pleasure of Hating Paperback – January 1, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

William Hazlitt (1778-1830) was a prolific journalist, parliamentary reporter, dramatic and literary critic, essayist and lecturer. He was the one of the first English writers to make a profession of descriptive criticism. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The Fight

'- The fight, the fight's the thing,
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.'

Where there's a will, there's a way - I said to myself, as I walked down Chancery-lane, about half-past six o'clock on Monday the l0th of December, to inquire at Jack Randall's where the fight the next day was to be; and I found 'the proverb' nothing 'musty' in the present instance. I was determined to see this fight, come what would, and see it I did, in great style. It was my first fight, yet it more than answered my expectations. Ladies - it is to you I dedicate this description; nor let it seem out of character for the fair to notice the exploits of the brave. Courage and modesty are the old English virtues; and may they never look cold and askance on one another! Think, ye fairest of the fair, loveliest of the lovely kind, ye practisers of soft enchantment, how many more ye kill with poisoned baits than ever fell in the ring; and listen with subdued air and without shuddering, to a tale tragic only in appearance, and sacred to the FANCY!

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Digireads.com (January 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1420934821
  • ISBN-13: 978-1420934823
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,121,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"What abortions are these Essays!" William Hazlitt laments in 'The Indian Jugglers' - the second essay in this lovely little tome. "What errors, whats ill-pieced transitions, what crooked reasons, what lame conclusions! How little is made out, and that little how ill! Yet they are the best I can do." Hazlitt is, of course, selling himself very short. I had never heard of Hazlitt (1778 - 1830) until I saw the Penguin Great Ideas series. The title of this sleak paperback intrigued me, since I am a true misanthrope at heart. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that Hazlitt was more than just another intellectual grump. Instead he proves himself a champion of liberality and the common man, even if he is more than a little sick of humanity at large.

The brunt of his anger is directed at hereditary monarchy, loyalist Torys, and the idea of 'Legitimacy.' But don't think that dates or couches his speech firmly on England's shores. His speeches on those subjects could just as easily be applied to the power structure of modern economy and government:

"He who has the greatest power put into his hands, will only become impatient of any restraint in the use of it. To have the welfare and the lives of millions placed at our disposal, is a sort of warrant, a challenge to squander them without mercy."

And another favorite, "Wherever the Government does not emanate...from the people, the principle of the Government, the esprit de corps, the point of honour, in all those connected with it, and raised by it to privileges above the law and above humanity, will be hatred to the people."

But of course the shining star is the title essay. When writing down quotes from 'On The Pleasure of Hating' I found myself taking down whole pages.
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This little book of essays punctured my reluctance to tackle anything written more than a hundred years ago. What a foolish prejudice!

From the essay "Indian Jugglers": "No man is truly great, who is great only in his lifetime." Which brought to mind modern celebrity and the petty inflations of the media, with whom Hazlitt was familar in his own time, dissecting the great and ungreat personages, and commenting on the qualities that made them so or not.

From "On the Spirit of Monarchy": "The right and the wrong are of little consequence, compared to the in and the out," Hazlitt says, amidst this acerbic essay on courts and kings, relevant as well to contemporary life, if not the enduring state of social affairs in whatever age.

From "Reason and Imagination," a biting commentary on detached reasoning versus "natural feeling," with examples that brought to mind "enhanced interrogation," about which Hazlitt writes (while discussing slavery): "Practices, the mention of which make the flesh creep, and that affront the light of day, ought to be put down the instant they are known, without inquiry and without repeal."

And the remarkable title essay, "On the Pleasure of Hating," which is so consistent and high-flying throughout that every phrase could be quoted and ruminated upon for its insight and application."
I Think, Therefore Who Am I?
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Some say our very being emerges from hearing, examining, and deciding between absolute and ambivalent thinking. Psychiatrists observe that anger, resentment and bitterness are emotions that predominate when reality does not meet our concrete beliefs. One way of moderating absolutism is to read the words of an early nineteenth century critic and essayist, William Hazlitt's ON THE PLEASURE OF HATING.

In six essays of critical prose, Hazlitt considers the nature of man and concludes, "Man is (so to speak) an endless and infinitely varied repetition: and if we know what one man feels, we so far know what a thousand feel in the sanctuary of their being. Our feeling of general humanity is at once an aggragate of a thousand different truths, and it is also the same truth a thousand times told."

The final essay, On The Pleasure of Hating, is probably the most memorable for the following quote of Hazlitt's absolute thinking:
"Pure good grows insipid, wants variety and spirit. Love turns, with a little indulgence to indifference or disgust: hatred alone is immortal."

For me the purpose of Hazlitt's concrete thinking is to calibrate, when necessary, my own thinking by opening the mind's eye to the full spectrum of what it means to be human, complete with ambivalences and uncertainties. Highest recommendation!
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This rather short collection contains six works by William Hazlitt. The first is "The Fight" which is rather forgettable: "We are cold to others only when we are dull in ourselves, and have neither thoughts nor feelings to impart to them". The second is "The Indian Jugglers" which is quite good: "Danger is a good teacher, and makes apt scholars. So are disgrace, defeat, exposure to immediate scorn and laughter. There is no opportunity in such cases for self-delusion, no idling time away, no being off your guard (or you must take the consequences) - neither is there any room for humour or caprice or prejudice." The third is "On the Spirit of Monarchy," which if one switches `Tories' for `Democrats' and `Whigs' for `Republicans' yields an amazingly accurate description of the current state of affairs in American politics: "The right and the wrong are of little consequence, compared to the in and the out." The fourth is "What is the People?" and is also very good: "There is but a limited earth and a limited fertility to supply the demands both of Government and people; and what the one gains in the division of the spoil, beyond its average proportion, the other must needs go without." The fifth is "On Reason and Imagination" and is a terrific account of the human condition: "Man is (so to speak) an endless and infinitely varied repetition: and if we know what one man feels, we so far know what a thousand feel in the sanctuary of their being. Our feeling of general humanity is at once an aggregate of a thousand different truths, and it is also the same truth a thousand times told."

The sixth is "On the Pleasure of Hating" and is one of the best and most timeless screeds ever written.
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