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  • Published: 16 February 2021
  • ISBN: 9781785039799
  • Imprint: Ebury Press
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $35.00

How to Live. What To Do.

In search of ourselves in life and literature




How the lives of great literary characters can help us live a richer and more meaningful life, written by an eminent psychoanalyst and Professor of English Literature.

'This is a really beautiful book...It's a genuinely therapeutic read - it takes your particular sorrows and by sharing them seems to halve them' Nick Laird
'By the end of this wonderful book, we have learned to read its title not as a prescription but as a set of questions. Neither novels nor psychoanalysis promise to finally answer those questions. Instead, they invite us to look and listen - and to live in a way that lets us keep asking' TLS
From the truths and lies we tell about ourselves to the resonant creations of fiction, stories give shape and meaning to all our lives. Both a practicing psychoanalyst and a professor of literature, Josh Cohen has long been taken with the mutual echoes between the life struggles of the consulting room and the dramas of the novel. So what might the most memorable characters in literature tell us about how to live meaningfully?

In How to Live. What to Do, Cohen plots a course through the various stages of our lives, discovering in each the surprising and profound insights literature has to offer. Beginning with the playful mindset of Wonderland's Alice, we discover the resilience of Jane Eyre, the rebellious rage of Baldwin's Johnny Grimes and the catastrophic ambitions of Jay Gatsby, the turbulence of first love for Sally Rooney's Frances, the sorrows of marriage for Middlemarch's Dorothea Brooke, and the regrets and comforts of middle age for Rabbit Angstrom.

  • Published: 16 February 2021
  • ISBN: 9781785039799
  • Imprint: Ebury Press
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $35.00

About the author

Josh Cohen

Josh Cohen is Professor of Modern Literary Theory at Goldsmiths, University of London and a psychoanalyst in private practice. He is the author of books and articles on modern literature, cultural theory and psychoanalysis, including How to Read: Freud, The Private Life: Why We Remain in the Dark, and Not Working.

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