Arendt says in The Human Condition that there are no new ideas--someone, somewhere has already imagined everything you imagine, only he never managed to get it off the ground, so to speak. "In the realm of ideas there are only originality and depth, but no absolute, objectively novelty...ideas, moreover, as distinguished from events, are never unprecedented..." Her example was atomic theory--Democritus had an idea, some people discussed it, but it "had no consequences in the factual world." John Dalton had an idea, some people discussed it, and it resulted in nuclear weapons.
For Arendt, this emphasizes the primacy and complexity of action. But for Miss Self-Important, it renders futile her ongoing efforts to come up with a new thought. Every time I discover that all of my ideas have already been articulated in great detail in someone else's book, I take comfort in the fate of Democritus' atomic theory and think about how everyone is probably an idea usurper. First, there was all the fruit of my two years of thinking about B. Franky. Now, this book.
This book is my entire plan for grad school. From the introduction: "Questions about childhood and authority permeated the political and religious debates of early modern Britain and its colonies." Do you see this--childhood, authority, politics, religion, early modern Britain, colonies? That is exactly what I wanted to study--every aspect of it. Except it's already been done. Even worse, I didn't even have a chance to start in on it. Unlike the B. Franky letdown, I can't even claim that I also had these thoughts, because I didn't yet, and now it turns out that I can't. Sadness! What now? What is left for me to do?
(Don't say, "read it." Already on that.)