Synopses & Reviews
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 Version is the first book in English devoted exclusively to the subject since Thackeray's The Book of Snobs.
"While Epstein's argument is quite witty and thoughtful, the scant bibliographic references and conversational tone will limit this book's appeal in academic libraries. It is, however, highly recommended for all general readers and public libraries." Library Journal
"The topic is ripe with promise, but Epstein's observations are less revelatory than entertaining....Epstein has a wickedly wonderful sense of humor and keen observational skills, both on display in the firsthand anecdotes scattered throughout this essayistic assemblage." Publishers Weekly
"Epstein presents beautifully opinionated epigrams and judgments, sometimes off-base, mostly spot on andconsistently thoughtful and entertaining....By a snob, of snobs, and for snobs: a nice example of the art of the essay." Kirkus Reviews
"A deliciously readable analysis." Harper's Bazaar
"When you go to the beach this summer, the witty, erudite people will be reading this book." David Brooks, Wall Street Journal
A national bestseller, Snobbery examines the discriminating qualities in all of us. With dishy detail, Joseph Epstein skewers all manner of elitism in contemporary America. He offers his arch observations of the new footholds of snobbery: food, fashion, high-achieving children, schools, politics, being with-it, name-dropping, and much more. Clever, incisive, and immensely entertaining, Snobberyexplores the shallows and depths of status and taste -- with enviable results.
About the Author
Joseph Epstein was born and educated in Chicago, where, since 1974, he has been a lecturer in English and writing at Northwestern University. From 1975 to 1997 he was the editor of The American Scholar. Three of the essays in this volume were chosen for The Anchor Essay Annual and The Best American Essays, where his work has frequently appeared. "The modern essay," as Karl Shapiro has written, "has regained a good deal of its literary status in our time, much to the credit of Joseph Epstein."
Table of Contents
Preface xi Part One 1. It Takes One to Know One 3 2. What Is a Snob? 13 3. How Snobbery Works 20 4. The Democratic Snob 28 5. Snob-Jobbery 38 6. O WASP, Where Is Thy Sting-a-Ling 47 7. Class (All but) Dismissed 62 8. Such Good Taste 73 9. In the Snob-Free Zone 83 10. The High, Fine Nuttiness of Status 91 Part Two 11. To You, I Give My Heart, Invidia 103 12. A Son at Tufts, a Daughter at Taffeta 115 13. Dear Old Yarvton 121 14. Unclubbable 133 15. Intellectual Snobbery, or The (Million or So) Happy Few 142 16. The Snob in Politics 153 17. Fags and Yids 162 18. The Same New Thing 172 19. Names Away! 184 20. The Celebrity Iceberg 194 21. Anglo-, Franco-, and Other Oddphilias 203 22. Setting the Snobs Table 215 23. The Art of With-It-ry 227
Coda: A Grave but Localized Disease 241 A Bibliographical Note 255 Index 259