Green Sickness and Wertherism

Jennifer Radden

in The Nature of Melancholy

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780195151657
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849253 | DOI:
Green Sickness and Wertherism

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Samuel Smiles, born in 1812, was an influential figure in the 19th-century “self-help” movement. His book, Self-help: With Illustrations of Character, Conduct and Perseverance (1859) grew out of a series of lectures, designed for self-improvement, which he gave to young men as editor of the Leeds Times newspaper. This chapter presents passages from an 1862 American edition of that work. His theme was that diligent self-culture, self-control, and self-discipline held the key to human fulfillment; his motto: “It all depends on me.” Smiles's emphasis on and disgust with the unmanly, unmasculine quality of the Romantic melancholy popularized by Goethe and Byron may account in significant part for the curious gender reversal by which, toward the end of the 19th century melancholy, melancholia, and related responses came to be associated with women and the feminine.

Keywords: Samuel Smiles; self-help; melancholy; melancholia; Goethe

Chapter.  1138 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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