One big happy world

The n+1 editors continue to parcel out parts of the second print issue. Up recently: a a reflection, at the start of a larger look at “The Intellectual Situation,” on the contemporary tyranny of happiness.

Aldous Huxley wrote a letter to George Orwell right after 1984 appeared, in which he praised the Big Brother vision but had to say he thought his own prediction of the future would be a lot closer to the truth. Not a boot stomping on your face for all eternity, but a society in which preferring unhappiness — because you didn’t want happiness by ersatz means — would be the totally unintelligible thing.

Even if you’re a Peter Kramer type, you’ll want to read the piece for its summary of 19th Century novelists’ attitudes toward happiness — and for the Henry James joke.


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