What if happiness is impossible? What if “men are always discontented because they are always unhappy?” What if, in their hearts, “they feel and they are well aware that they are unhappy, that they suffer, that they do not find enjoyment, and in that they are not wrong?” What if this unhappiness is increased by the fact that men “think they have the right to be happy, to enjoy life, not to suffer, and in that too they would not be wrong, if it were not for the fact that what they expect is, if nothing else, impossible?”
Zibaldone by Giacomo Leopardi. 2,592 pages. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. $75.
Hard thoughts, especially for those of us who live in a country that declared, in one of its founding documents, that the pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right.