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Last on

Thu 30 Jun 2011 11:30 BBC Radio 4

Duration:
30 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 30 June 2011

Everyone's talking about happiness: politicians want to measure it, and self-help books explaining how to become ever happier are two-a-penny. So why have literary folk been reluctant to depict this emotion, when many philosophers and politicians see it as the very point of human existence? The French poet Montherlant may have the answer- he claimed that 'Happiness writes white', that it is too boring to depict or even unrepresentable. Presenter Catherine Blyth explores the challenges facing award-winning writers, including Helen Simpson, novelist Ann Patchett, and poet Don Paterson when they try to put something as elusive and subjective as 'happiness' onto the page.

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