This afternoon I reread the passage in The Magic Mountain in which Thomas Mann expounds on the nature of boredom. Lars Svendsen in A Philosophy of Boredom asks, “What is the difference between profound boredom and depression?” concluding that there is considerable overlap.
Thinking about how various thinkers have dealt with boredom led me to scribbling a bibliography for a study on the subject, which I thought I’d share here. All of these works deal to a greater or lesser extent with the concept of boredom:
- Boredom: The Literary History of a State of Mind – Patricia Meyer Spacks
- In Praise of Boredom (from On Grief and Reason) – Joseph Brodsky
- Boredom is a major preoccupation in much of Herman Melville’s work
- Being and Time – Martin Heidegger (on the theme of profound boredom)
- The Conquest of Happiness – Bertrand Russell
- The themes of boredom and waiting are dominant in the novels of Marguerite Duras, notably Moderato Cantabile (which is brilliant and you should read anyway.)
- The Voyage Out – Virgina Woolf (fascinating exploration of the textual use of boredom)
- Experience Without Qualities: Boredom and Modernity – Elizabeth Goodstein
- Anatomy of Melancholy – Robert Burton
- A Philosophy of Boredom – Lars Svendsen
- Boredom: A Lively History – Peter Toohey
- Beyond Boredom and Anxiety – Mihály Csíkszentmihályi
I realise there is an extensive literature of the phenomenon of boredom, many of which I have not included. I came cross Lee Rourke’s top 10 books about boredom. Please feel free to add any titles in the comments section.