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Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuitby Joseph Epstein
Synopses & Reviews
“I am pleased to report that I am neither quoted nor even mentioned in the act of effrontery called Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit. I have been given to understand that, owing to his interest in such subjects touching on human nature as ambition, envy, snobbery, and friendship, on innumerable occasions its author, Joseph Epstein, has been called ‘the American Montaigne.’ This is a comparison I consider slanderous, for it would render me the French Joseph Epstein. Ridicule, n’est-ce pas?”—Michel de Montaigne
“Discretion, it needs to be said, is not Mr. Epstein’s hallmark, as in Gossip he blithely recounts the foibles of many of the famous of his time. Yet of his own lengthy and much-gossiped-about relationship with the Italian cinema actress Sophia Loren, the scandal behind his winning three equestrian gold medals in the past Olympic games, and his rather pathetic pretensions as pretender to the long-vacated throne of Portugal, he provides not a word. Odd, most odd, and yet the reader must not let this strange lapse to detract from what is otherwise a most amusing and bountiful little volume.”—Louis de Rouvroy, Duc de Saint-Simon
“Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. North America and all the ships at sea . . . Let’s go to press . . . Advance copies of pseudo-intellectual scribbler Joe Epstein’s new book on gossip, with its ill-researched tirade against the career of Mrs. Winchell’s little boy, went out late last week to leaders of Al Qaeda in Pakistan, Yemen, and Miami Beach, where it will find the anti-American readers it so richly deserves.”—Walter Winchell
A juicy, incisive exploration of gossip in all its forms--from celebrity rumors to literary romans a clef, from personal sniping to political slander--by one our "great essayists" (David Brooks)
Joseph Epstein's highly entertaining new book takes up the subject of snobbery in America after the fall of the prominence of the old Wasp culture of prep schools, Ivy League colleges, cotillions, debutante balls, the Social Register, and the rest of it. With ample humor and insight, Epstein uncovers the new outlets upon which the old snobbery has fastened: food and wine, fashion, high-achieving children, schools, politics, health, being with-it, name-dropping, and much else, including the roles of Jews and homosexuals in the development of snobbery. He also raises the question of whether snobbery might, alas, be a part of human nature. Snobbery: The American Versionis the first book in English devoted exclusively to the subject since Thackeray's THE BOOK OF SNOBS.
Taking his title from the wounded cry of the once great Max Bialystock in The Producers — Look at me now! Look at me now! Im wearing a cardboard belt!” — the charming essayist Joseph Epstein gives us his largest and most adventurous collection to date. With his signature gifts of sparkling humor and penetrating intelligence, he issues forth as a memoirist, polemicist, literary critic, and amused observer of contemporary culture. In deeply considered examinations of writers from Paul Valéry to Truman Capote, in incisive take-downs of such cultural pooh-bahs as Harold Bloom and George Steiner, and in personally revealing essays about his father and about his years as a teacher, this remarkable collection from one of Americas best essayists is a book to be savored.
Is it possible to have too many friends? Is your spouse supposed to be your best friend? How far should you go to help a friend in need? And how do you end a friendship that has run its course?
In a wickedly entertaining anatomy of friendship in its contemporary guises, Joseph Epstein uncovers the rich and surprising truths about our favored companions. Friendship illuminates those complex, wonderful relationships without which we'd all be lost.
A dishy, incisive exploration of gossip — from celebrity rumors to literary romans à clef, personal sniping to political slander — by one our “great essayists” (David Brooks)
To his successful examinations of some of the most powerful forces in modern life — envy, ambition, snobbery, friendship — the keen observer and critic Joseph Epstein now adds Gossip. No trivial matter, despite its reputation, gossip, he argues, is an eternal and necessary human enterprise. Proving that he himself is a master of the art, Epstein serves up delightful mini-biographies of the Great Gossips of the Western World along with many choice bits from his own experience. He also makes a powerful case that gossip has morphed from its old-fashioned best — clever, mocking, a great private pleasure — to a corrosive new-school version, thanks to the reach of the mass media and the Internet. Gossip has invaded and changed for the worse politics and journalism, causing unsubstantiated information to be presented as fact. Contemporary gossip claims to reveal truth, but as Epstein shows, its our belief in truth that gossip today threatens to undermine and destroy.
Written in his trademark erudite and witty style, Gossip captures the complexity of this immensely entertaining subject.
The e-book includes a sample chapter from Snobbery by Joseph Epstein.
About the Author
JOSEPH EPSTEIN is the author of the best-selling Snobbery and of Friendship, among other books, and was formerly editor of the American Scholar. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harpers Magazine, the Atlantic Monthly, and other magazines. He lives in Evanston, Illinois.
Table of Contents
Part I: Private Gossip
1. How It Works 1
2. Feasible, Uncheckable, Deeply Damning 11
3. When Is It All Right to Gossip? 21
4. In the Know 31
Great Gossips of the Western World, I 37
5. The Truth Defense 48
6. The Gossip Transaction 54
7. Need Gossip Be Trivial? 60
8. Pure Speculation 65
Part II: Public Gossip
9. Gossip Goes Public 73
10. Gossip Goes Center Ring 80
11. Shooting at Celebrities 90
Great Gossips of the Western World, II 103
12. Antediluvian Gossip 114
13. Literary Gossip 126
14. Gay Gossip 137
Great Gossips of the Western World, III 149
Part III: Private Become Public
15. Caught in the Net 161
16. Whores of Information 176
17. Snoopin and Scoopin 187
Great Gossips of the Western World, IV 197
18.Too Much Even of Kreplach 211
A Bibliographical Note 219
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