Using the untimely death of the poet and friend, Sylvia Plath, as a point of departure, Al Alvarez confronts the controversial and often taboo area ...Show synopsisUsing the untimely death of the poet and friend, Sylvia Plath, as a point of departure, Al Alvarez confronts the controversial and often taboo area of human behaviour: suicide. "The Savage God" explores the cultural attitudes, theories, truths and fallacies surrounding suicide and refracts them through the windows of philosophy, art and literature: following the black thread leading from Dante, through Donne, Chatterton and the Romantic Agony, to Dada and Pavese. Entwined within this sensitive study is the author's deeply personal account of his own unsuccessful suicide attempt, and together they form the most fascinating and compelling meditation on the "Savage God" at the heart of human existence.Hide synopsis
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This is an excellent study of suicide and talk about suicide from very early days (the Greeks and Romans) until today. It has an especially insightful study of Sylvia Plath's suicide at the beginning. Alvarez believes her suicide was a cry for help gone wrong. Indeed, he tends to think that suicide is, largely, an act of desperation, and not something done with good reason. I think he limits suicide too much to such contexts. He misunderstands the place that suicide plays in the life story of many people, for whom it comes as a blessed release from suffering or the prospect of greater suffering. It is, nonetheless, a necessary book on the shelves of anyone wanting to know about suicide. He has some very interesting details, many taken from John Donne's "Biathanatos", of suicide in the ancient (especially the Roman) world. Well worth reading. It is also a wonderfully expressive book, written by a poet, so its ability to evoke time and place and mood in striking ways is an added bonus in a book on such an apparently morbid subject.
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