By Joseph Epstein
Joseph Epstein's hugely wonderful new booklet takes up the topic of snobbery in the United States after the autumn of the prominence of the outdated Wasp tradition of prep colleges, Ivy League schools, cotillions, debutante balls, the Social sign in, and the remainder of it. With abundant humor and perception, Epstein uncovers the recent retailers upon which the outdated snobbery has fixed: nutrition and wine, style, high-achieving teenagers, faculties, politics, healthiness, being with-it, name-dropping, and lots more and plenty else, together with the jobs of Jews and homosexuals within the improvement of snobbery. He additionally increases the query of no matter if snobbery may well, sadly, join human nature. Snobbery: the yankee Versionis the 1st booklet in English dedicated completely to the topic considering the fact that Thackeray's THE ebook OF SNOBS.
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Additional info for Snobbery: The American Version
In the United States they want to know what you do. A useful distinction, this, for it implies that in Europe whom you derive from, your family line, is the crucial datum, whereas in America what you do deﬁnes you. In America one’s work marks one socially — and, often, snobbishly. Once upon a time, and not so long ago as all that, the best answer to the question of what one did was to say that one was a professional man or (more and more nowadays) woman. To be a professional man or woman meant that one had had more higher education than others, albeit of a vocational kind, was earning a serious sum of money, was held in respect in one’s community.
Journals kept by the young tend to give off a strong whiff of depression, chieﬂy because the world doesn’t yet recognize the youthful journal keeper’s genius, however unproven it may be. Sometimes one feels one isn’t getting the consideration (another euphemism for deference) one deserves as a veteran, senior man or woman, someone whose mettle has been established. Awaiting a decision from an editor that takes longer than I think it ought, I ﬁnd myself mumbling about the ignorance of people who don’t understand that I am much too important to be kept waiting so long.
It is one-upmanship played for higher emotional stakes. The snob—be he upward or downward looking — needs above all to feel superior. ” Snobbery inheres in those things (wine connoisseurship, the acquisition of art) the knowledge or possession of which confers upon us — sometimes in spite of our best efforts to ﬁght it off — a feeling of superiority. Yet, whatever one’s specialty in this line, sustaining the feeling of superiority is no easy task, for, terrible truth to tell, human beings are not naturally superior.