In An Education in Happiness (Un’educazione alla felicita), Flavia Arzeni discusses that most elusive of mental states, happiness, and how two of the twentieth century’s greatest writers and Nobel-Pize winners, Rabindranath Tagore and Hermann Hesse, thought we should seek it.
Happiness is neither a privilege of the few, nor a fleeting state of mind: it is hidden behind a door that every person can open once they have found it, at the end of an arduous journey of self-discovery.
Tagore and Hesse are arguably very different: one comes to us from the core of Indian culture, the other from the very heart of Old Europe; the former is an eternal wanderer, the latter a determined armchair traveller. Still, there are extraordinary affinities between their works, and they both understood that the path to happiness is paved with small acts and simple notions.
Arzeni offers us an oasis of stability and calm in which we can find the answers to our fundamental concerns about life and happiness.
Flavia Arzeni’s An Education in Happiness is translated from the Italian by Howard Curtis published by Pushkin Press.
Flavia Arzeni is Professor of Modern German Literature at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University La Sapienza in Rome.