top of page

A Biography of Loneliness


Writer Fay Bound Alberti has taken a long view of loneliness and come up with some surprising findings. The rise of individualism in the 20th and 21st centuries has much to do with our contemporary attitudes towards loneliness. 'We are suspended in universes of our own making in the 21st century, in which certainty of the self and one's uniqueness matters far more than any collective sense of belonging,' she argues.

Speaking of the 'biography of loneliness' (Oxford University Press, 2019) she explains how 'it is physical as well as psychological, and its emergence can be traced back to the end of the eighteenth century, when loneliness emerged as a way of talking about negative emotional experiences of being alone. Prior to that time, "lonely" or "oneliness" described the absence of another person, without any corresponding emotional lack.'

There are chapters on Widow(er)hood and loss, on a 'Ticking Timebomb?', Rethinking Loneliness in Old Age, and one entitled 'Lonely Clouds and Empty Vessels: When Loneliness Is a Gift'.

Alberti's book is a useful contribution to current debates which explores why there seems to be a preoccupation with loneliness currently. She hopes to 'open up the topic of loneliness... as a complex and historically situated emotional state.'

This title can be ordered from Oxford University Press.

Loneliness book cover.jpg
bottom of page