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The Dark Side: Thoughts on the Futility of Life from the Ancient Greeks to the Present [Anglais] [Broché]

Alan R. Pratt

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.8 étoiles sur 5  5 commentaires
22 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The best "pessimistic" quote book yet published 7 mai 2011
Par Hexameron - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Are you a dead serious pessimist or scowling nihilist? Here is a quotation book for you that is truly the "Book of Psalms and Proverbs" for the disciple of pessimism/nihilism. There are a lot of quotation books in the market aimed at the pessimist, cynic, and jaded individual, but this is the only book that really takes itself seriously. Most "pessimistic" quotation books do a decent job of compiling quotes, but they are too often presented in a light-hearted, apologetic, or tongue-in-cheek mood. Many of them are also too short with large typefaces and tend to rehash the same old cliched quotes. For examples, see 1) The Book of Poisonous Quotes, 2) Pessimisms: Famous (and Not So Famous) Observations, Quotations, Thoughts, and Ruminations on What to Expect When You're Expecting the Worst, 3) Are You a Miserable Old Bastard?, and 4) The Big Curmudgeon: 2,500 Outrageously Irreverent Quotations from World-Class Grumps and Cantankerous Commentators.

I've read all of these and they are pretty much fluff compared to Alan R. Pratt's "The Dark Side." It is lengthy (over 1,000 quotes), scholarly, expertly arranged with powerful commentary, and containing the darkest and bleakest quotations I've ever encountered. In addition, the book opens with a tour-de-force chapter introducing and justifying nihilism, followed by an interview with an anonymous nihilist, a college professor who states his case very passionately.

This book is well-organized, arranged chronologically and subarranged by authors, effectively collating together excerpts from major figures like Voltaire, Schopenhauer, Twain, Nietzsche, Celine, Camus, etc. The editor and compiler, Pratt, provides his own unabashedly grim titles and compelling introductory remarks to the historical periods and figures. His chapter titles are stern but enticing and a good indicator of what you can expect the book to cover; essentially beginning with the Egyptians and ending with Samuel Beckett:

1. Prehistory and the Preclassical: In the Beginning, Nothing
2. Classical Greece: Cosmos or Chaos?
3. The Hellenistic World: Back to a Dismal Future
4. The Old Testament: The Lesson of Job
5. The Romans: Bittersweet Memories Amid Amorphous Decay
6. The Medieval World: Very Dark Ages, Indeed
7. The Renaissance: The Rebirth of Angst
8. Baroque Extravagance, Incredulity, and Pessimism
9. The Enlightenment... Without Radiance
10. Romanticism: A Quixotic Quest for Contentment in Confusion
11. Realism, Decadence, and the Fin de Siecle: Is this all there is?
12. The Condition Moderne and the Age of Anxiety
13. Postmodernism: One Step Beyond

Unlike so many other quote books, Pratt does not water down the severity of his topic with cute drawings, sarcastic commentary, or introductory chapters attempting to be humorous. Pratt is somber and devoutly nihilist without sounding pretentious or "emo". He actually writes really well: clear yet erudite, articulate yet blunt, and always convincing when he emphasizes the darker undercurrents of various historical periods.

To better illustrate Pratt's aim with this book, I quote a paragraph from the preface:

"Over a thousand excerpts representing nearly four hundred individuals from antiquity to the present, from the pre-Socratics to the current antifoundationalists, address mankind's contingent nature and cultivate the view that human existence is, at best, amusingly trivial or, more likely, horrifyingly meaningless. The remarks of this disparate group of artists, philosophers, skeptics, malcontents, and misanthropes range from maniacal celebration to contempt to expressions of abject resignation. The material is taken from speeches, poems, letters, novels, essays, anecdotes, dissertations, conversations, manifestos, and some general rantings. Although a select few of the individuals quoted eventually found some form of salvation or promise for existence, only their darkest thoughts are included here in an effort to maintain nihilistic purity."

Bottom line: This book is the finest compilation of its kind. Pratt does not follow the common formula in pessimistic quote books of being apologetic or facetious. There is a sullen mood and forceful austerity to the presentation that may strengthen the pessimist's conviction, or exacerbate depressive tendencies. I usually read a couple pages of quotes per day; anymore than that and the gloom could get overwhelming. Fair warning: anyone not inclined towards misanthropy and nihilism may find their hopes and ideals crushed by the quotes in this book.
12 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The ultimate nihilistic reference. Excellent! 23 octobre 1998
Par Un client - Publié sur
If you are a nihilist or are just interested (or curious -I know I was) in nihilism then you should definately check out this book. I got mine at the library and ended up buying multiple copies. It helps me put forth evidence in essays and other things I write of how nihilism has been present through out the ages.
6 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Dark and Lovely Despite It Not Being the All in All 9 juillet 2012
Par G. Charles Steiner - Publié sur
I gave a copy of this book to a friend. He had been betrayed, lied to and defrauded in his own life as I had been in mine. This book had given me strength despite the ills that befall every one us, not because it contains positive affirmations, but because it's a testimony to how dark life can really be and in what different hues and shades the darkness comes so that the sense of victimhood is removed and learning what obstacles we face can be fortifying. My friend read the book, enjoyed the many wise and dark quotations in it, and later after sharing with me his thoughts stole a picture from my home seeing how quick I am to give and forgive.

However, that event was not depressing nor is the book under review here -- not in the least, except for this: the best of what's in it really lies all in the Greeks or in Chapter 2 and especially Chapter Three, "The Hellenistic World: Back to a Dismal Future" -- when it comes to addressing the real darkness: political destruction. Not that all the remaining quotations - particularly by Schopenhauer -- aren't sharp, incisive and deep. No.

But there is no quotation that deals at all with the dismal world of destructive empire building, nation-destroying political manipulation, counter-intelligence, global warfare on innocent people. None at all! The Greek section or, specifically, Chapter Three alludes to these scenarios and represents all that might be said about them without directly resorting to modern quotations from Carroll Quigley and his book "Tragedy and Hope," or quotations from David Rockefeller's memoir explicitly stating how much of a Communist he is.

The darkness of this book is entirely a-political and that is the only depressing limitation I found with it because the absence of political awareness means it cannot possibly convey what it means to be totally aware of the dark side of life and its futility. The book then is still born of a child cleaving to his mother's breast, not ripped from the breast and then the skull smashed -- as in real political war.

"We live not as we like, but as we can." -- Andria, c. 300 B.C. Is this not solely because of slavery-loving government?

0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Nice compilation 8 décembre 2012
Par Del Monte - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Great little compilation along with interesting section introductions by the author. Only 4 stars because I think the quote references could have been
better overall. E.g. the famous Epicurian epitaph is attributed to Roman slave. Also there is nothing from non western civs so we can
look forward to an expanded second edition, in the best sense of looking forward to a book on existential futility.
7 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Dark Side is a creative and interesting book 14 août 2001
Par Niki Picone - Publié sur
I bought the book for one of my gothic friends thinking it was about misery but when I opened it up I was entranced by the quotes. I don't view it as a negative book even though most of the quotes are not cheerful. It makes you think and it was very captivating to see how some of my favorite authors had hidden meanings in their writing which I did not see until it was taken from the context as a quote. I great book for those who are into quotes and looking into a different type of reading material.
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