The Savage God

By A. Alvarez,

Book cover of The Savage God: A Study of Suicide

Book description

"Suicide," writes the notes English poet and critic A. Alvarez, "has permeated Western culture like a dye that cannot be washed out." Although the aims of this compelling, compassionate work are broadly cultural and literary, the narrative is rooted in personal experience: it begins with a long memoir of Sylvia…

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Why read it?

1 author picked The Savage God as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

The Savage God destroyed me upon finishing it for the first time.

Alvarez travels through history in this non-fiction study, tracing the perceptions of suicide from ancient societies to the present day, all with an empathetic eye. Alvarez views suicide both as a societal phenomenon and an intimately personal experience.

His own experience with suicide so closely mirrored my own that I still remember the final pages of the book vividly. To be frank, the book’s a bit dated—it was written in the 70s and some of Alvarez’s comments (as well as his reverence of Freud) haven’t aged well. Nevertheless,…

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