<iframe src="//www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-K3L4M3" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden">

More from Books

The important business of idle loafing

Alain Corbin describes how rest, once seen as a prelude to eternal life, began to assume a therapeutic quality in the 19th century, as a guard against burnout and a cure for TB

6 July 2024

9:00 AM

6 July 2024

9:00 AM

A History of Rest Alain Corbin

Polity, pp.108, 12.99

In our godless, post-industrial, hyper-competitive world, rest is seen merely as recuperation: it’s when we man-machines ‘recharge our batteries’, as the cliché goes, before dashing back to the factory or work-station. It’s a negative concept. You rest for a reason, which is to avoid burnout.

All you should really do to be happy is read light novels or self-help books, advises Montaigne

But as this charming and subtle meditation on the subject from a grand French historian shows, rest used to be far more than just taking time off.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Subscribe for just $2 a week

Try a month of The Spectator Australia absolutely free and without commitment. Not only that but – if you choose to continue – you’ll pay just $2 a week for your first year.

  • Unlimited access to spectator.com.au and app
  • The weekly edition on the Spectator Australia app
  • Spectator podcasts and newsletters
  • Full access to spectator.co.uk

Unlock this article


You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first month for free, then just $2 a week for the remainder of your first year.


Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator Australia readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in