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On Balance

Adam Phillips

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

“Balancing acts,” writes Adam Phillips, “are entertaining because they are risky, but there are situations in which it is more dangerous to keep your balance than to lose it.” In these exhilarating and casually brilliant essays, the philosopher and psychoanalyst examines literature, fairy tales, works of art, and case studies to reveal the paradoxes inherent in our appetites and fears. How do we know when enough is enough? Are there times when too much is just right? Why is Cinderella’s biggest problem not the prince but other women? What can Richard III’s furious sense of his own helplessness tell us of our own desires? On Balance shows Phillips’s bravura gift for linking disparate ideas and the dreamers that dreamed them into something beautiful, revelatory, and essential.

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Five Short Talks on Excess* It is very stretchy.Kay Ryan, ‘The Fabric of Life’
I In ExcessNothing makes people more excessive than talking about excess. We tend to become either extremely disapproving or unusually enthusiastic and excited about the most recently reported celebrity orgy, or managing director’s pay rise. No one can be indifferent to binge drinking, or the amount of pornography on the internet; everyone knows someone now who has a so-called eating disorder, and everyone knows about the huge numbers of people in the world who are starving. Excess is everywhere
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REVIEWS

Praise for On Balance

Praise for Adam Phillips:
“The curious thing about reading Phillips is that he makes you feel smart and above the daily grind at the same time as he reassures you that you are not alone in your primal anxieties about whether you are lovable or nuts or, perhaps, merely boring.”—Daphne Merkin, The New York Times Magazine
“One of the finest prose stylists at work in the language, an Emerson of our time.”—John Banville

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Adam Phillips

  • Adam Phillips is a psychoanalyst and and a visiting professor in the English department at the University of York. He is the author of many acclaimed books, including On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored; Going Sane; and On Kindness (with Barbara Taylor).
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On Balance

Adam Phillips

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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