Steven Earnshaw, The Existential Drinker(Manchester University Press, forthcoming 18 October 2018).

Drinking to excess has been a striking problem for industrial and post-industrial societies – who is responsible when an individual opts for a slow suicide? The causes of such drinking have often been blamed on genes, moral weakness, ‘disease’ (addiction), hedonism, and Romantic illusion. Yet there is another reason: the drinker may act with sincere philosophical intent, exploring the edges of self, consciousness, will, ethics, authenticity and finitude. Beginning with Jack London’s John Barleycorn: alcoholic memoirs the book goes on to cover novels such as Jean Rhys’s Good morning, midnight, Malcolm Lowry’s Under the volcano, Charles Jackson’s The lost weekend and John O’Brien’s Leaving Las Vegas, and less familiar works such as Frederick Exley’s A fan’s notes, Venedikt Yerofeev’s Moscow-Petushki, and A. L. Kennedy’s Paradise. —

Among Earnshaw’s other publications is The Pub in Literature: England’s Altered State (Manchester University Press, 2000).

 

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