Thursday, June 14, 2007

Snobbery by Joseph Epstein

On a recent non-fiction kick, and finding myself bookless in Cheyenne, Wyoming, I perused the shelves for something to read. Appropriately, for the setting, I chose the book Snobbery by Joseph Epstein.

A very cute read, Epstein talks about the curiosity he finds in that though democracy, by its very nature touts itself as anti-snobbery, seems at the same time, by its very nature to breed it. By taking away the social solidarity of class, getting rid of any true aristocracy, and even by eliminating the society columns, Americans are left with the need to find some way of distinguishing themselves from their fellow countrymen.

We do this by becoming snobs. Job-snobbery, school snobbery, intellectual snobbery, political snobbery, celebrity snobbery, food & wine snobbery, overall "good-taste" snobbery…… and the list goes on. We all fit into some of these and know people who fit into some of these. I myself have a wee bit of job-snobbery (but of the more modern I-don’t-make-any-money-but-I’m-doing-something-important kind), intellectual snobbery (I thought myself over that, but I was merely taking a break and am a snob again in full force), and food and wine snobbery (though, in reading this book and making the distinctions, I find that I am less of a snob and more of an elitist).

The book was very entertaining. I especially enjoyed the chapter on good taste:

"…good taste really is good sense, which means that in friendship, it is
represented by tact, generosity, and above all kindness; in possessions, by
comfort, elegance, utility, and solidity; in art, by beauty, harmony, and

as well as the chapters on WASP society (my only experience with that being from Gilmore Girls [holla!]), and the chapter on the snobbery of being un-American. Though the book was enjoyable, I found it a little too fleshed out and thought it might do better as a series of essays.

In other news: gas prices are up; though the station's three crew and seven visiting shuttle astronauts are not at any immediate risk, Russian computers controlling the International Space Station's orientation, as well as its supply of oxygen and water have failed; Jessica Alba is an "American hero;" and during daylight hours, a million dollar painting by the 17th Century Dutch artist Frans van Mieris has been stolen from the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney!

1 comment:

Lynelle said...

You write very well.