“It is not, nor it cannot come to good. But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.” Thus spoke Hamlet, one of the great kvetchers of literature. Every day, gripers challenge our patience and compassion. Yet Pollyannas rile us up with their grotesque contentment and unfathomable rejection of protest.
Avital Ronell considers how literature and philosophy treat bellyachers, wailers, and grumps—and the complaints they lavish on the rest of us. Combining her trademark jazzy panache with a fearless range of readings, Ronell opens a dialogue with readers that discusses thinkers with whom she has directly engaged. Beginning with Hamlet, and with a candid awareness of her own experiences, Ronell proceeds to show how complaining is aggravated, distracted, stifled, and transformed. She moves on to the exemplary complaints of Friedrich Nietzsche, Hannah Arendt, and Barbara Johnson and examines the complaint-riven history of deconstruction.
Infused with the author’s trademark wit, Complaint takes friends, colleagues, and all of us on a courageous philosophical journey.