Iranian bookstores offer readers “only a promise of happiness”

TEHRAN – The book by American philosopher of Greek origin Alexander Nehamas “Only a Promise of Happiness: The Place of Beauty in a World of Art” has been published in Persian.

Published by Qoqnus, the book has been translated into Persian by Masud Hosseini.

Neither art nor philosophy has been kind to beauty during the twentieth century. Much of modern art disdains beauty, and many philosophers deeply suspect that beauty only covers us or distracts us from horrors.

Intellectuals have relegated passions for beauty to the fringes, replacing them with the anemic and rarefied alternative, “aesthetic pleasure”.

In “Only a Promise of Happiness”, Nehamas claims the beauty of his detractors. It seeks to restore its place to art, to reestablish the links between art, beauty and desire, and to show that the values ​​of art, regardless of their moral value, are also crucial for the rest of the life.

Nehamas pleads his case with characteristic grace, sensitivity and philosophical depth, supporting his arguments with extensive studies of art and literature, from top to bottom, from Thomas Mann’s “Death in Venice” and “Olympia by Thomas Mann.” Manet ”on television. Throughout, the discussion of the artwork is generously illustrated.

Beauty, concludes Nehamas, may depend on appearance, but that does not make it superficial. The perception of beauty manifests a hope that life would be better if the object of beauty was part of it.

This hope can shape and direct our lives for better or for worse. We may discover misery in search of beauty, or discover that beauty offers nothing more than a tantalizing promise of happiness. But if beauty is always dangerous, it is also a pressing human concern that we must seek to understand, and not to repress.

Photo: Cover of the Persian translation of Alexander Nehamas’ book “Only a promise of happiness”.


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