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Gossip
Cover of Gossip
Gossip
The Untrivial Pursuit
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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, it's 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.
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, it's 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.
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About the Author-
  • Joseph Epstein is the bestselling author of books including Snobbery and Friendship.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Epstein traces the history of gossip, its various manifestations, and the reasons why humans are so engaged in it--to the extent that there is even a gossip industry. Arthur Morey delivers a clear and uncomplicated narration. He deftly teases out emphasis and nuance as Epstein plunges into issues of innuendo, subtlety, and the doublespeak that can accompany gossip. But even though his voice and performance are agreeable, the audiobook doesn't sound fully realized. Epstein stocks his prose with jokes and asides that Morey doesn't utilize to their full potential. The asides and jokes are meant to some degree to replicate gossip itself, and Morey's straight narration of them detracts from the reading. L.E. © AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 6, 2011
    Both educational and dangerous, a form of news and idle speculation—the many facets and history of gossip are explored by Epstein (Snobbery). He explores the transition from private gossip ("The only thing missing from the Garden of Eden was a third person for Adam and Eve to gossip about") to "the professionalism of gossip" with the printing press and changes wrought by the Internet, which has obliterated the divide between "private and public spheres." Delectable firsthand anecdotes and portraits of "great gossips of the Western world"—Saint-Simon, Walter Winchell, Barbara Walters (who asks "the most tasteless questions of famous people... who themselves tasteless enough to answer her"), and Tina Brown (who makes "debased interest, misplaced curiosity, and voyeuristic emotion seem not tacky but perfectly all right, fun, smart") add to the pleasures of this serious appraisal. Readers who share Epstein's concern about gossip's power "to invade privacy, to wreck lives" and his reluctance to wholly condemn it "because I enjoy it too much" will find him disquieting and delightful.

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    Tantor Media, Inc.
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The Untrivial Pursuit
Joseph Epstein
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