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In Defence of Sensuality by John Cowper Powys
  

Synopsis

In Defence of Sensuality by John Cowper Powys

In Defence of Sensuality was first published in 1930. The author's own foreword to the book is worth quoting in full:'The author feels that perhaps some explanation is due tot eh reader for the rather unusual employment of the ''Sensuality'' which serves as the title of this work. The advantage given to the author by the use of this particular expression is that it enables him to proceed from rock-bottom upwards as far as he likes. A more refined title would have cut him off, in his method of developing his idea, from the physical roots of existence; for while it is easy to indicate the overtones and undertones of Sensuality it would be hard to bring a gentle, vague word, like the word ''sensuousness'' down to the bare, stark, stoically-stripped Life-Sensation which is the subject of this book.How far has the individual the right to be what is called ''selfish''? How far has he the right to concentrate on his own solitary awareness of existence and make this alone his life-purpose? Is there such a thing at all as a Religion of Nature or a Cosmic Ethic? Such are the questions the author attempts to answer; and he finds that in his discussion of the root-sensations of life the word Sensuality, taken in an unusually comprehensive sense, serves his purpose better than any other word.'In Defence of Sensuality is one of the self-help books John Cowper Powys wrote that owe their genesis to the free-lance lecturing he did in America. In addition to this one, Faber Finds are reissuing The Meaning of Culture, A Philosophy of Solitude and The Art of Happiness.

About the Author

John Cowper Powys (1872-1963) was born in Derbyshire, brought up in the West Country (the Somerset/Dorset border area was to have a lasting influence on him), went to Cambridge University and then became a teacher and lecturer mainly in the USA where he lived for about thirty years. On returning to the UK, after a short spell in Dorset, he settled in Wales in 1935 where he lived for the rest of his long life. Those are the bare bones of his life. In some senses they seem unimportant when set alongside his extraordinary writing career. Not only was output prodigious, it was like nothing else in English Literature. Indeed, George Steiner has made the bold claim that his works are 'the only novels produced by an English writer that can fairly be compared to the fictions of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky'. And even that doesn't touch on their multifarious strangeness. John Cowper Powys wrote compulsively: letters, diaries, short stories, fantasies, poetry, literary criticism, philosophy and, above all, novels poured out of him. He also wrote a remarkable autobiography. In addition to his Autobiography his masterpieces are considered to be Wolf Solent, Glastonbury Romance, Weymouth Sands and Porius. But his lesser, or less well-known, works shouldn't be overlooked, they spring from the same weird, mystical, brilliant and obsessive imagination. John Cowper Powys is a challenging author with an impressive list of admirers. In addition to George Steiner, these have included Robertson Davies, Margaret Drabble, Theodore Dreiser, Henry Miller, J. B. Priestley and Angus Wilson.

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Book Info

Publication date

20th January 2011

Author

John Cowper Powys

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Publisher

Faber & Faber

Format

Paperback
288 pages

Categories

Philosophy

ISBN

9780571275403

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