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The happiness of pursuit, or…

The focus on the pursuit of happiness, endorsed by the Declaration of Independence, fits well with the idea of life as a journey–a bright thread that runs through the literary canon of the collective human culture. With the world at your feet, the turns that you should take along the way depend on what you are at the outset and on what you become as the journey lengthens. Accordingly, the present book is an attempt to understand, in a deeper sense than merely metaphorical, what it means to be human and how humans are shaped by the journey through this world, which the poet John Keats called “the vale of soul-making”–in particular, how it puts within the soul’s reach “a bliss peculiar to each one’s individual existence.”

The focus on the pursuit of happiness, endorsed by the Declaration of Independence, fits well with the idea of life as a journey–a bright thread that runs through the literary canon of the collective human culture.3 With the world at your feet, the turns that you should take along the way depend on what you are at the outset and on what you become as the journey lengthens. Accordingly, the present book is an attempt to understand, in a deeper sense than merely metaphorical, what it means to be human and how humans are shaped by the journey through this world, which the poet John Keats called “the vale of soul-making”–in particular, how it puts within the soul’s reach “a bliss peculiar to each one’s individual existence.”

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