Killing Time. Ennui in Eighteenth-Century English Culture

Marjo Kaartinen
The article explores the meanings of ennui in eighteenth-century England. Based on text searches, it proposes that the French term ennui was adopted into everyday usage in England around the mid-century, and was from the 1770s onwards used to signify especially the temporal aspects of the word, that is, boredom. Ennui was closely tied to social rank: it was thought to plague the wealthy if they had too much time on their hands. Interestingly, ennui was not particularly gendered, but plagued
more » ... men and women. It was intrinsically related to lifestyles. A multitude of activities were proposed to avoid ennui, from reading to physical exercise. Avoidance was a question of life and death: ennui could lead to moral collapse and ultimately to suicide, killing not only the body but also the soul.
doi:10.13128/jems-2279-7149-20392 fatcat:4jiqkeood5gprcxorfg2pt7yxm