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Our societies frequently proclaim their enormous esteem for culture. Music, film, literature and the visual arts enjoy high prestige and are viewed by many as getting close to the meaning of life. But what is culture really for? This book proposes that works of culture were all made, in one way or another, with the idea of improving the way we live. The book connects a range of cultural masterpieces with our own pains and dilemmas around love, work and society, and invites us to see culture as a resource with which to address the complex agonies of being human. It provides us with enduring keys to unlocking culture as a way of transforming our lives.