From the Stoics and the Bible to Dante, Shakespeare, Wittgenstein, and such 20th-century writers as John Berryman, Hecht recasts the narrative of our “secular age” in new terms. She shows how religious prohibitions against self-killing were replaced by the Enlightenment’s insistence on the rights of the individual, even when those rights had troubling applications. This transition, she movingly argues, resulted in a profound cultural and moral loss: the loss of shared, secular, logical arguments against suicide. By examining how people in other times have found powerful reasons to stay alive when suicide seems a tempting choice, she makes a persuasive intellectual and moral case against suicide.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Amy on 14-07-17
Interesting but not compelling
Fantastic narration by the author.
I was expecting the book to be solely an argument against suicide. However, the focus is more about the history of philosophers' arguments against suicide (which seems obvious now, looking at the. subtitle of the book). It's fine if that's what you're looking for, but I found that the book focused a little too much on the history without bringing these arguments together in a satisfactorily coherent and compelling way. I also couldn't figure out why the book was structured in the way it was - initially the chapters were in chronological order of the history of philosophy in suicide, but this changed later on.
In order to be most effective, I think the book would need to be more concise and place more emphasis on modern research on suicide contagion. This was the most compelling point for me, but received surprisingly little focus compared to the writings of ancient philosophers.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Scott on 07-01-14
Informative but oddly dispassionate
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
In the introduction to Stay, the author notes that she has lost several close friends and fellow writers to suicide. She then argues why we have an obligation to stay. Powerful stuff. What follows after though is an oddly dispassionate and encyclopedic progression through historical justifications for and mostly against suicide. Some of this is interesting from a philosophical and sociological perspective but neither is it necessarily very persuasive. What seemed lacking, given the intro and the author's firm belief that we owe it to ourselves and others to live, is that she fails to engage the reader at an emotional level by bringing in any contemporary or personal connections. Still, I would say that Stay is a worthwhile read but more for those with an interest in the evolution of western society's mores toward it than a book that will convince anyone to come down from the ledge.
What about Jennifer Michael Hecht’s performance did you like?
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
By Michael on 08-03-16
I return to this book again and again
Any additional comments?
Whenever I'm struggling, I come back to this book. There is always something new in it that strikes me, and gives me something to hold onto moving forward.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful