The Delicate Monster: Modernity and Boredom

Pezze, Barbara Dalle; Salzani, Carlo
December 2010
Critical Studies;2009, Vol. 33, p5
Academic Journal
The essay situates the phenomenon of boredom within the analysis of modernity and emphasises the strict interconnectedness of the two terms. Through a genealogical approach, it analyses the etymologies and the history of a number of terms related to modern boredom: acedia, melancholy, ennui, spleen, Langeweile, and finally the English boredom. If these terms are all related, the analysis shows that modem boredom is a recent and different phenomenon, as is demonstrated by the fact that the English term "boredom" dates only from the seventeenth century. Some of the causes of the "invention" of boredom are then briefly singled out in order to situate historically the crisis of the self and of human experience which are at the core of the modem epidemic of boredom. Finally, the essay explores the recent literature on the subject and summarises the contributions included in the collection.


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