Posted March 15, 2012

I’m an avid reader of the magainze Whole Living and in this last issue I saw a book they featured that looked interesting.  After reading the description of The Art of Growing Old, I immediately knew I wanted to read the whole book and thought it would make for the perfect book feature here.


Here’s what Whole Living said about it:

“Marie De Hennezel writes about a journal kept by a friend for hers as the latter lay dying of cancer.  Even as she suffered, the woman asked herself this question: “How an we infect each other with fervor and life?”  The Art of Growing Old (Viking), as best-seller in France, attempts to answer the query.  De Hannezel, who is well known in her country for her work on aging and end-of-life care, suggests that maintaining fervor is the surest way to grow into a contented old age.  That may seem a little simplistic, but as she draws on the philosophies of Alzheimer’s experts, of those who are aging themselves, and of such big thinkers as Carl Jung, de Hennezel make a compelling and often charming case for it.  “One becomes old the day one no longer believes in mankind,” asserts one of her sources, a 99-year-old nun named, Sister Emmanuelle, “and in the worth of every individual, whoever he or she may be.”  This before adding, “But I’m not wise, Marie!  I am a bit of a crank!”

You don’t get to be nearly 100, de Hennezel suggests, withouth balancing a desire for connection with a serious dose of self-awareness.  To give up on mastering that art (“It is a question of real work,” she admits) is to risk the kind of reclusive, abandonded old age that all of us fear.  Fortnately for the reader, de Hennezel is able to spirit us away from such anxiety with an invigorating disregard for recieved wisdom – discussing, for example, the persistence of sexual desire into one’s eighties.  De Hennzel is of the firm belief that “we all need the words of those who raise us up.”  With an elegant prose style that glimers with candor, she has written a book whose words do just that.”


The Art of Growing Old can be purchased HERE.

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