How to live. what to do
‘We tell ourselves stories in order to live’ Joan Didion
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.