The End of Solitude
Selected Essays on Culture and Society
Author: William Deresiewicz
A passionate, probing gathering of over twenty-five years of groundbreaking thought on culture and technology and its effect on the human spirit, by one of our most respected critics and essayists—former Yale English professor and National Book Critics Circle award–winner William Deresiewicz
What is the Internet doing to us? What is college for? What are the myths and metaphors we live by? What is the purpose of art, and what can we learn from the past?
These are the questions that William Deresiewicz has been pursuing over the course of his award-winning career. In “The Disadvantages of an Elite Education,” his viral piece from 2008, he sounded the alarm about the Ivy League admissions frenzy and the kind of student it produces. In “Solitude and Leadership,” his 2009 address at West Point—a piece that went on to be taught throughout the military and corporate worlds—he issued an early warning about the threats from social media to our inner lives. In “On Political Correctness,” from 2017, he dissected the culture of ideological intolerance that has spread, since then, from campus to society at large.
The End of Solitude brings together these and more than forty other essays from such publications as Harper’s and the Atlantic and introduces four that are published here for the first time. Ranging widely across the culture, they take up subjects as diverse as Avatar and Mad Men, Merce Cunningham and Harold Bloom, the meaning of the hipster and the belief that food is art, the nature of religion and the possibility of friendship between the sexes. Drawing on the past, they ask how we got where we are. Scrutinizing the present, they seek to understand how we can live more mindfully, more meaningfully, more freely. Behind their questions lies a fundamental one: What does it mean to be an individual, and how can we sustain our individuality in an age of networks and groups?
Henry Holt and Co.