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Great Ideas: On The Shortness Of Life Mass Market Paperback – 1 March 2005
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About the Author
The early part of this reign was remembered as a period of sound government, for which the main credit seems due to Seneca. His control over Nero declined as enemies turned the emperor against him with representations that his popularity made him a danger, or with accusations of immorality or excessive wealth. Retiring from public life he devoted his last three years to philosophy and writing, particularly the Letters to Lucilius. In AD 65 following the discovery of a plot against the emperor, in which he was thought to be implicated, he and many others were compelled by Nero to commit suicide. His fame as an essayist and dramatist lasted until two or three centuries ago, when he passed into literary oblivion, from
- Publisher : Penguin; 1st edition (1 March 2005)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 112 pages
- ISBN-10 : 014101881X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0141018812
- Dimensions : 11.13 x 0.76 x 18.03 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 13,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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While "On the Shortness of Life" definitely isn't one of the longest books ever written (paperback edition has 111 pages), it isn't one of the easiest-to-read books ever written as well. The message is often very condensed and it requires a lot of concentrated effort to fully comprehend it. I think this might be one of the most philosophical books I've read in a while, while luckily not being very philosophical (as compared to distant memories of reading Hegel's Phenomenology of the Spirit for my high school philosophy assignments).
I must admit that this is the most highlighted book in my collection. There are many different insights worth remembering and contemplating upon, and I think I might keep doing this for at least a while.
I don't think that this is the type of a book that you can read and expect it to change the entirety of your life (nor I think that you can expect this from anything, for that matter), yet it can definitely have an effect on how you live your life. I'd say this the kind of a book that falls into your hands when you are ready. You must have already started contemplating on life and changing your life in order to even be searching for such literature.
Already on the first page, Seneca writes that "it is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it." To refer back to the point I'm trying to make is why would one even care about the inevitable shortness of life or wasting of time in the first place, unless one was pursuing a hard-to-achieve goal and/or struggling on their own path to excellence?
I believe that simply the best way to properly describe this book is by quoting a fellow Amazon reviewer, who said:
"A must read for anyone who needs a jolt to kick you in the right direction."
Highly recommended to everyone interested!
Where he is not so good, another reason for four stars, is in advising what one should do with one's time, and that's partly because - to my thinking - he never settles in his own mind the criteria for deciding who we should be happy to give some of our precious time to supporting. It shouldn't go solely on private pleasure, should it? How much of it should go on good works, helping others less well placed than ourselves, maybe through public office? And what about the close up decisions about the gift of our time in partnerships?
But he sets you thinking. And probably the best philosophers set you thinking for yourself, which he does, if you give his book the time it deserves.