10 Best Books About Isolation Update 05/2022

Books About Isolation

Literature, to me, seems to thrive on a strange mix of things. It is an activity that is mostly done alone, but it is also motivated by the desire to connect with other people. We want to be alone with a book, but to do so means having a conversation so intimate that it can go beyond the boundaries of space and time. Readers can reach out to the dead, and writers can touch the unborn, when they write about them.

People who are isolated in real life (like Robinson Crusoe) or in a more abstract way (like in the book) are some of my favorite books to read (Jane Eyre, Villette). My first book, In the Distance, was originally written to look at how people deal with being alone. It tells the story of a Swedish immigrant who walks from San Francisco to New York in the 1850s, against the big push west. When he is alone, he spends most of his time in what was called the “Unorganized Territories.” He finds, however, that as these expanses grow, so does his sense of claustrophobia. Sometimes, he can only see his hands and feet.

These are some of my favorite books about being alone and not having friends. Some of them helped me write my book; others I only recently read. All of them have shown me how different solitude can be.

Against Nature (À Rebours) by Joris-Karl Huysmans

Against Nature (À Rebours) by Joris-Karl Huysmans

In Jean Des Esseintes’ house on the outskirts of Paris, a temple to his “depraved whims,” he is full of “contempt for humanity” and “weighed down by spleenic boredom.” In the past, he used to say that “Nature had her day.” To keep him company, he has books, fish that move in dyed water, and a gold-glazed, jewel-encrusted tortoise as his only friends. Des Esseinte’s artificial isolation is so extreme that it changes his body and the way it works.

Silas Marner by George Eliot

This quiet masterpiece has a lot of different layers of isolation. People who weave belong to a “narrow religious sect,” which Silas is a member of. After being wrongly accused of theft, he is kicked out of this isolated group and lives like a hermit. He spends his days doing “the unquestioning activity of a spinning insect.” There are also some strange things about him: He also starts to keep money in his pockets, but not as a miser as you might think. Eventually, Silas’s life turns into “a mere pulse of desire and satisfaction that had no connection to any other being.” This happens after Silas spends a long time alone. She comes into his life and changes everything.

Hunger by Knut Hamsun

Nothing can make you feel more alone in a big group more than Hunger. His book is about a man who wanders around Oslo, but is always on the verge of mental and physical collapse because he doesn’t eat. My hunger had turned me into a crazy person in the city of Kristiana. he loses his hair, gets sick, and eats wood chips, stones, and even his own pocket. His finger almost falls off. All the while, I was writing monographs, philosophical treatises, and plays.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Sleep is the most lonely thing we can do because it takes us away from even ourselves. “Rip van Winkle,” “Oblomov,” “Finnegans Wake,” and “The Interpretations of Dreams” are the only works of fiction I can think of that deal with this subject. They either deal with the content of dreams or see sleep as a problem. None of the above is true for Moshfegh! As a single woman, she wants to “hibernate” for a year and then be “reborn.” With the help of a prescription-writing quack, she wants to do this. As a “somnophile,” this person sees sleep as a goal in itself, which shows how silly our goal-oriented culture is. In the end, I was able to do something that mattered. My sleep turned out well.

Wittgenstein’s Mistress by David Markson

Wittgenstein’s Mistress by David Markson

This is more than just a book. It’s a collection of ideas, a text made up of single sentences. Kate, the narrator, thinks she is the last person on Earth. Even though she is (or thinks she is) completely alone, the book is full of references to Western culture, from Odysseus to Marlon Brando, as if this reverse Eve had been given the entire Western tradition. The Louvre, the National Gallery, and the Met are all museums that Kate likes to spend time in when she’s not at home with friends. During a trip to Rome, Kate signed a mirror at the Borghese Gallery, which is in the city. Though, in fact, I wrote down the name “Giotto.”

Frankenstein and The Last Man by Mary Shelley

He wrote a book about the first superman (Frankenstein’s creature is stronger and smarter than any human). A few years later, he wrote a book about the last man. Victor Frankenstein’s creation is one of the most lonely people in literature. “I am a poor and lonely person. I look around and I have no relatives or friends on this planet.” The monster wants to make his creator as lonely as he is. The Last Man, on the other hand, is a very long book with a very dramatic plot. That makes the last pages even more poignant. The only survivor of a plague wanders around Rome. There are monuments and ruins all around.

The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen

Can anyone be more lonely than a lonely teen? Portia, the main character in Bowen’s book, is the child of a secret marriage that sends the family into exile. Her half-brother and his wife are in charge of Portia after her parents die, so they take care of her after that. Her isolated upbringing gives her a unique view of social relationships, which she writes down in a journal that is the heart of the book. “The heart may think it knows better: the senses know that absence blots people out.” Bowen’s breathtaking prose is full of thoughts about being alone. “We really don’t have any absent friends.” Compared to Henry James’s book “What Maisie Knew,” Bowen’s would be a good match. Both are about a young girl who is stuck between two dysfunctional adults who don’t like each other.

Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo

One of the best books ever written, Rulfo’s story of Juan Preciado’s return to his hometown of Comala in search of his father, Pedro Páramo, the strongman of the village, is a ghost story like no other. The story’s chronology is so well done that the reader feels like they’re stuck in time right away. Whispers, echoes, shadows, and more. People in the town have left, leaving Juan alone. “The words I had heard until then… had no sound, they were soundless; they could be felt; but without a noise, like the ones heard in dreams.” He only wrote this short book and a collection of stories, but his impact is immeasurable.

“The Yellow Wall-Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

“The Yellow Wall-Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Women have been “confined to a house of some kind for as long as history,” says Perkins Gilman in The Home: Its Work and Influence. There is a picture of this kind of seclusion in “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” The narrator’s husband is a condescending and suffocating doctor, so he tells her to rest in a room with a yellow wallpaper that has been ripped. She starts to notice moving patterns and, finally, a woman trapped behind the wallpaper’s design. A: “She crawls around very quickly, and her crawling shakes it up all over.” The ending of the story is very scary. She may have written her best-known novel, Herland, as a response to being confined to her home. It is about a utopian community of women who live together in isolation.

Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett

Beckett is the best at the monologue, and he is the only one who can do it. His trilogy shows how he gets more and more alone and how he loses everything. In Molloy’s story, a man who is on crutches tells his story to a person who has never met him. Malone, the protagonist of the second book, is no longer upright. He is a bedridden, naked old man, writing with a pencil stump all the time. In the last book, there is only a head in a jar, which turns into a voice that doesn’t belong to anyone. However, these loners show up in all kinds of Beckett’s work. In his early novels (Murphy), in many of his plays (Not I), and in his later stories, they show up (Company). There were three things in my life that I had to make the best of: not being able to speak, not being able to be silent, and being alone.

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