ON AGING by Jean Améry

ON AGING

Revolt and Resignation

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Searing, albeit depressing, reflections on the process of aging. Born in Vienna in 1911, AmÇry fled Austria at the time of the Anschluss, joined the Belgian Resistance, and was eventually captured by the Germans and shipped to Auschwitz. Making his home in Belgium after the war, he produced At the Mind's Limits, a collection of essays on the meaning of the concentration camp experience. On Aging was his second book, written when he was 55. Originally a series of radio lectures, it consists of five pieces on the depredations age brings to the human body, mind, and spirit. Fiercely determined not to grow old, the author assumes an attitude that, as the subtitle suggests, is one of both resistance and resignation to the inevitable. Literature forms the springboard for many of his ruminations. Taking its cue from Proust, the first essay, ``Existence and the Passage of Time,'' discusses how the aged come to see time as the essence of their existence. Following de Beauvoir, the second article, ``Stranger to Oneself,'' details the infirmities of body brought on by growing old. The third piece, ``The Look of Others,'' draws heavily upon Sartre, considering the death of dreams: The old realize that they no longer will abe able to make it to the top of the hill and are forced to sit down and make do with the view from where they are. The fourth, ``Not to Understand the World Anymore,'' looks at the increasing inability of the old to grasp and accept new developments and ideas. The final essay, ``To Live with Dying,'' considers the approach of death itself as the culmination of the aging process. Shortly after this book's original publication in Europe, AmÇry wrote a companion volume, By One's Own Hand--A Discourse on Voluntary Death. Two years later, at age 65, apparently unable to accept growing old, he took his own life. On Aging is a record of a brilliant and tormented soul.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-253-30675-2
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Indiana Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1994




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