Abstract

Derived from the Latin solitudo, the English “solitude” has always conveyed a state of “deprivation”; but according to the Oxford English Dictionary, it was a word not commonly used until the seven-teenth century. Its current meaning as “living alone, loneliness, seclusion” assumed general coinage in the eighteenth century. The celebratory connotation of solitude belongs to those who have sought solitude in the higher, nonworldly venues of the spiritual realm, or to those who see solitude as personal space for pleasure and creative self-indulgence. The former reigns in the Middle Ages; the latter takes root in the Renaissance. However, Petrarch writes a secular celebration of solitude, and solitude as a spiritual experience never really loses its relevance. In any case, for most solitude is a hard choice: even Thomas Merton writes in No Man is an Island that “One has to be very strong and very solid to live in solitude.”

Keywords

Dition Arena Ghost Rium Sorb 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Ursula Lord, Solitude Versus Solidarity in the Novels ofJoseph Conrad: Political and Epistemological Implications of Narrative Innovation (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 1997), 3.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For a mid-century critique of “desocialisation” see Paul Halmos, Solitude and Privacy: Study of Social Isolation: Its Causes and Therapy (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1952), chapters II and III.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
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© Edward Engelberg 2001

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  • Edward Engelberg

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