'No longer threatened by disease and famine, the modern mind struggles with a universal disquiet born of the sight of our lonely planet. Healthier, wealthier and wiser we may be, but why is happiness so hard to find?' (Editor's abstract)
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'In the first Quarterly Essay for 2011, David Malouf returns to one of the most fundamental questions and gives it a modern twist: what makes for a happy life? With grace and profundity, Malouf discusses new and old ways to talk about contentment and the self. In considering the happy life - what it is, and what makes it possible - David Malouf returns to the "highest wisdom" of the classics, looks at how, thanks to Thomas Jefferson's way with words, happiness became a "right", and examines joy in the flesh as depicted by Rubens and Rembrandt.
'In a world become ever larger and impersonal, he finds happiness in an unlikely place. This is an essay to savour and reflect upon by one of Australia's greatest novelists.' (From the publisher's website.)