Troubled Pleasures

Troubled Pleasures:Writings on Politics, Gender and Hedonism

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What happens when ‘life’s simple joys’ become complicated? When pleasure is transformed as a function of consumption, the innocent comforts of food, nature and place are embedded in complex practices of distribution and exploitation. Exotic and diverse objects of pleasure are made available only at the price of a heightened awareness of their origins, genealogies and possible effects; ‘authenticity’ recedes behind objects produced as pleasures.

Troubled Pleasures considers the ways in which modern pleasure is fraught with unhappy implications, at the same time as contemporary critical arguments put into question the touchstones of identity, morality, subjectivity and desire. It brings together writings which explore the sources of pleasure’s ‘loss of innocence’, and which argue the case for a scrupulous ‘alternative hedonism’. Including essays on human needs, socialism and gender, a feminist response to Joyce’s Ulysses, and a fictional reflection on appetite and excess, Troubled Pleasures plots an Epicurean path between righteous asceticism and conspicuous consumption.


  • Kate Soper’s dedicated, deeply intelligent writing is bravely in the service of human emancipation.

    Terry Eagleton
  • With enviable clarity and passionate commitment Kate Soper tackles today’s central issues and challenges postmodern scepticism, old Marxist certainties and new feminist fundamentalisms.

    Lynne Segal