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4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  202 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Masterpieces of wit, whimsy and satire…
A saint struggling with the greatest of all temptations: daily life.
A genius proposes a world inventory of genius to create a better life, but he cannot bear the company.
Family life trembles with enough animus to bring down an elephant.
A woman leaves her husband and enters the red velvet map of new life.
Mass Market Paperback, 159 pages
Published 1980 by Pocket Books (first published 1972)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dec 15, 2016 Matthew rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Sadness is a selection of sixteen short stories by Donald Barthelme, including: "Critique de la Vie Quotidienne", "Träumerei", "The Genius", "Perpetua", "A City of Churches", "The Party", "Engineer-Private Paul Klee Misplaces an Aircraft between Milbertshofen and Cambrai, March 1916", "A Film", "The Sandman", "Departures", "Subpoena", "The Catechist", "The Flight of Pigeons from the Palace", "The Rise of Capitalism", "The Temptation of St. Anthony", and "Daumier".
Vit Babenco
Jul 14, 2015 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing
“The first thing I did was make a mistake. I thought I had understood capitalism, but what I had done was assume an attitude – melancholy sadness – toward it.”
Capitalism hates sadness so Donald Barthelme fills his tales with absurdity and satire so all the sad things become ridiculous and ludicrous and one can laugh till one cries reading them…
“I visited the child's nursery school, once. Fathers were invited seriatim, one father a day I sat there on a little chair while the children ran to and f
Paul Bryant
1) I found this interview with DB on youtube and I was dumbfounded – here was I thinking you said his name like this:

Donald Barthelme
Will overwhelm

But no. It’s pronounced Barthulmee. Ew, can’t find anything to rhyme with that.

2) I bought this from amazon & paid a very modest fee and blow me down, they sent me a first edition hardback – proving that DB is really not very sought after!

3) The photo on the back is the best one I’ve seen where you can clearly see the inverted-V incision on DB
Jan 06, 2010 Troy rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
I'm reading Sadness and I'm not loving it. The stories move, but they are too clever, too experimental, too distracted by pop culture, fads, and crappy contemporaneous slang. And I'm wondering, why did I ever love Barthelme so? Is the romance over? Is he yet another love lost to age? But then I remember that I'm probably not old enough to ask those questions, and that there were things I loved when I was 10 that I no longer loved when I was 16. Maybe. But I recently re-read Barthelme's "The Scho ...more
Feb 14, 2013 T-bone rated it it was ok
I enjoyed the stories early in this collection but the later ones left me feeling empty. The same way I feel if I masturbate more than once in a day. Maybe I will give it another try one day and just read one story each day.
Glenn Russell
Apr 13, 2016 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A fine collection of postmodern short blasters from Space Cadet Donald Barthelme with such titles as: “The Sandman,” “The Rise of Capitalism,” “A City of Churches," “Departures” and “The Party.” To share the flavor of the author’s literary ingenuity, below are my comments coupled with a few quotes from a piece of Barthelme flash fiction as absurdist cartoon, a story with the bureaucratic-like title “ENGINEER-PRIVATE PAUL KLEE MISPLACES AN AIRCRAFT BETWEEN MILBERTSHOFEN AND CAMBRAI, MARCH 1916,”
Jul 31, 2008 Jack rated it it was amazing
Some (Read: Most) of this content is pretty far out. Sometimes the obtuse offers the most direct portrait of something more abstract.
Gina Thompson
Dec 07, 2014 Gina Thompson rated it it was amazing
Barthelme has a way of making you think more deeply about your own self through his clever and beautifully written stories.
Jaredjosephjaredjoseph harveyharveyharveyharvey
"The trouble with you is that you are an idiot," Gibbon said. "You lack a sense of personal worthlessness. A sense of personal worthlessness is the motor that drives the overachiever to his splendid overachievements that we all honor and revere."

"I have it!" I said. "A deep and abiding sense of personal worthlessness. One of the best."
Marco Kaye
Sep 08, 2011 Marco Kaye rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another 5 star review to a Donald Barthelme book? Maybe you ask this question and that's fine. I know I did. My reasoning is that this is one of his funniest. Take, for instance, "The Sandman." The story is contained in a letter the narrator is writing to his girlfriend Susan's shrink. "She tells me what she said and what you said," the narrator writes. He defends Susan artistically, writing, "But the proposition, 'Susan becomes an artist and lives happily ever after' is ridiculous...Let me poin ...more
Dec 30, 2008 Danielle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maybe this has already been mentioned by others, but just in case --

I believe that some (perhaps all?) of the stories from this beautiful work have been republished in later collections under a different name, so if you can't find this out of print tome, check out those later compilations.

Sadness struck mean as a hilarious and yet poignant collection of Barthelme's works. The stories are moving and touching, the language truly beautiful - Barthelme really knows how to take conventional English a
Oct 17, 2010 Rhys rated it it was amazing
An outstanding collection of short stories first published in 1972. Barthelme is possibly my favourite short story writer ever. His work is always profound, always funny, always highly inventive. Despite the title of this book, it is a very life-enhancing read. Barthelme's influence on me is colossal and ...unshakeable. Every time I read a Barthelme story I want to write exactly the same way he does, which is an impossible thing to do properly... The finest story in this collection is probably t ...more
Eric T. Voigt
Aug 04, 2010 Eric T. Voigt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fall-twelve
If there's a better book to start Fall with don't tell me about it. I want to enjoy this moment. No story in the collection failed to make me laugh. The first story, about you and your wife Wanda, and the Daumier surrogate, and "The Party" are the stand-outs, in MY humble opinion. Maybe I'd say more but I'm in New York and Kiel fast approaches and I'm naked and need to get to showering so I'm fresh for the new day. Fresh for the Fall.
Aug 22, 2010 Sara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
Started reading it as I was listening to Sixty Stories and realized they were all compiled in that book. Well, now I have it as a hardcover edition, and it's got a really nice cover and has most of my favorite stories in it. Still a really, really good book.
Jul 18, 2008 Bill rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
Another mui excellente collection, second only to Come Back, Dr. Caligari. I actually pulled this off the shelves a month or so back and re-read for the twentieth time. Still pure poetry after 15 years.
Oct 16, 2009 Colin rated it really liked it
One of his better colletions. Most or all of the works in Sadness have been assimilated into larger collections (40 Stories/60 Stories) at this point, so there isn't much sense in buying it at this point.
Dec 25, 2008 John rated it really liked it
Probably my favorite by Barthelme. I read this sometime during 1991.
May 26, 2015 Adam rated it it was amazing
Sadness is hilarious. But also, more importantly, more than funny.
Dan Edelstein
Apr 02, 2010 Dan Edelstein rated it it was amazing
Mar 12, 2008 JFKW rated it it was amazing
Robert Vaughan
Mar 18, 2010 Robert Vaughan rated it really liked it
Barthelme at his best.
Jason Crane
Nov 20, 2014 Jason Crane rated it it was amazing
There's something gasp-inducingly brilliant on nearly every page.
Nov 27, 2011 Matt rated it it was amazing
short, but intriguing tales of oddness. two of my favorite stories are in this collection and it's just the perfect thing to read when you have 10 minutes to kill.
Maxwell M. Maxwell
Maxwell M. Maxwell rated it it was amazing
Jan 09, 2016
Kassy_cruz rated it did not like it
Oct 24, 2015
Parapraxis rated it really liked it
Nov 09, 2008
Lăcătuş Alina
Lăcătuş Alina rated it it was amazing
Feb 19, 2015
Davey Morrison Dillard
Davey Morrison Dillard rated it it was amazing
Jun 11, 2007
Brent Van Horne
Brent Van Horne rated it really liked it
Nov 17, 2012
Thomas rated it liked it
Jan 17, 2008
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Donald Barthelme was born to two students at the University of Pennsylvania. The family moved to Texas two years later, where Barthelme's father would become a professor of architecture at the University of Houston, where Barthelme would later major in journalism. In 1951, still a student, he wrote his first articles for the Houston Post. Barthelme was drafted into the Korean War in 1953, arriving ...more
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“The world in the evening seems fraught with the absence of promise, if you are a married man. There is nothing to do but go home and drink your nine drinks and forget about it.” 3 likes
“Yes, the saint was underrated quite a bit, then, mostly by people who didn’t like things that were ineffable…

…a lot of people don’t like things that are unearthly, the things of this earth are good enough for them, and they don’t mind telling you so. “If he’d just go out and get a job, like everybody else, then he could be saintly all day long…”

—from “The Temptations of St. Anthony,” by Donald Barthelme”
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