Gossip

The Untrivial Pursuit

By Joseph Epstein
(Houghton Mifflin, Hardcover, 9780618721948, 242pp.)

Publication Date: November 2011

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Description

A dishy, incisive exploration of gossip—from celebrity rumors to literary romans à clef, from personal sniping to political slander—by one of 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 is eternal and necessary. Himself 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 even invaded politics and journalism, causing unsubstantiated information to be presented as fact. Contemporary gossip claims to reveal truth, but as Epstein shows, it’s our belief in truth itself that may be destroyed by gossip.

Written in his trademark erudite and witty style, Gossip captures the complexity of this immensely entertaining subject.




About the Author
Joseph Epstein is the author of, among other books, Snobbery: The American Version, Fabulous Small Jews (a collection of stories), Envy, and Friendship: An Expose. He was the editor of The American Scholar between 1974 and 1997, and for many years taught in the English Department at Northwestern University. His essays and stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Commentary, the Atlantic Monthly, and other magazines.


NPR
Tuesday, Dec 6, 2011

Writer Joseph Epstein has already traced the history and practice of snobbery and envy. In his new book, Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit, he turns his attention to one of humanity's oldest endeavors: our desire to hear � and share � the secrets of others, even if we feel guilty about it. More at NPR.org

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