In modern culture [mourning, melancholy, regret, and loneliness] are seen as pathologies—alienation and inauthenticity in Europe, maladjustment and depression in the United States. At present, they seem to flourish only in vernacular forms, country-and-western music being one of these. The moon has gone behind a cloud, and I’m so lonesome I could die.

It seems to me that, within limits the Victorians routinely transgressed, the exercise of finding the ingratiating qualities of grave or fearful experience is very wholesome and stabilizing. I am vehemently grateful that, by whatever means, I learned to assume that loneliness should be in part pleasure, sensitizing and clarifying, and that it is even a truer bond among people than any kind of proximity. It may be mere historical conditioning, but when I see a man or a woman alone, he or she looks mysterious to me, which is only to say that for a moment I see another human being clearly.

Marilynne Robinson, “When I Was a Child I Read Books”, in When I Was a Child I Read Books