Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit
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Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit

3.08 of 5 stars 3.08  ·  rating details  ·  86 ratings  ·  23 reviews
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-biogr...more
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Published December 12th 2011 by Tantor Media (first published January 1st 2011)
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UUUUUGH! I don't know what I was expecting when I started this book. I think it started out ok: what gossip had done and meant through the ages. I guess I was hoping more of a history of how gossip changed the world. Instead, Epstein doesn't take his own advice when he says, "Gossip is only interesting to someone when they care about the gossip." And then he proceeds to tell stories about people that I have never heard about. And he knows this, (well, he doesn't know that *I* don't know them) bu...more
xiii thrum w/significance
4 earl wilson...G is hearing something you like about someone you don't
10 auden..a teacher is someone who talks in other people's sleep
53..when G isn't motivated by revenge, it's motivated by egotism & status needs
---some G passed along out of sheer exuberance, the desire to entertain
56..yenta, gabby woman, blabbermouth
60.. x remarried in his 50's, & apparently had swum into safe harbor...later breakup..x might have looked fwd to spending his final yrs sailing ca...more
Kate Woods Walker
Joseph Epstein, in Gossip, argues that the telling of tales is not as bad as you think it is. He bolsters his case with a couple of historical chapters on the works of Saint-Simon and the life of Alexander the Great. He seasons his theories with chatter about the literary set, some of whom are so deeply burrowed into the nether folds of East Coast intelligentsia I'd truthfully never heard of them. But there's plenty of good dish about plenty of the better-known.

Along the way he borrows heavily f...more
Evanston Public  Library
Joseph Epstein's lively exploration of the universal proclivity of humans to share the latest analyzes gossip's many forms, its potential to change opinions (especially of others), and why we find it so satisfying. Epstein, a prolific local author, has shared his wit and wisdom on various human pursuits in such earlier works as Friendship: An Exposé, Envy, Snobbery: The American Version, and Ambition, the Secret Passion. His pithy take on human nature--the good and the bad--tackles some serious...more
I don't think I gossip too much about other people, or at least not negatively. I'm sure some people have gossipped about me (probably both negatively and positively). I do like celebrity gossip and I don't know why, other than I like entertainment. I like to be informed about the art world because I like to think I am kind of an artist. Maybe I fantasize how I'd be gossipped about if I were a celebrity, although I'd probably be ignored. Maybe it's just nice to think of celebrities as just like...more
Suzanne Wiggins
I loved the topic of this book. However, once I started reading it, I found myself constantly distracted, putting the book down, and having to force myself to continue reading. For the first few chapters, I didn't understand where he was heading or what he was trying to do with the subject. I don't know if I eventually adjusted to his writing style or the context became clearer, but it started to provide a little bit of entertainment. Sadly, though, this was only due to reading about the gossip...more
The word 'fame' comes from the Latin word for 'rumor'. Curiously, Epstein doesn't mention that in this wonderful book, but he mentions just about everything else there is to mention about gossip, with lots of scandalous celebrity and political gossip thrown in for good measure

This is my first time reading Epstein, and I enjoyed it immensely.
The review I read in Booklist led me to believe that this would be an examination of gossip through the lenses of history and sociology. I thought that it would be a fine addition to my collection of support materials for the students.
Imagine my surprise to find out that Gossip is in fact gossip! And by page 18 I found out that Aristotle Onassis had an affair with Maria Callas because his wife (Jackie Kennedy O) refused to have, well, let's call it "banal socks" with him. Now that's dishy! And t...more
I expected a book that would explain how gossip has shaped & affected modern society. Maybe I picked this out because my work environment seems to thrive on it, and I wanted to read some scientific explanation as to why people are so enthralled by other people's business.

It's just that; it's other people's business and not their own. No mystery, no secret formula. I guess I wanted more of an explanatory book and not one that contains actual gossip as a device to keep the reader moving from...more
Gossip was a really interesting read on the evolution of gossip. Loved in the little gossipy bits at the end of each chapter. The chapter sizes were small so you didn't get overwhelmed. I loved the little profile chapters on a single person who epitomizes the gossip style of the time. However when Epstein got to the modern age, there seemed to be a disappointment about the lack of privacy that the internet age provides. I felt like it lingered in the rest of the book that I otherwise loved.
Entertaining book about the finer points of gossip and how it has evolved through time. Each chapter ends with a “diary” -- an example of the type of gossip from that chapter experienced personally by the author. Many of them took place years ago among the upper crust (and I'm clearly traveling in the wrong circles because I hadn't heard of a lot of them). But this lent it a highbrow feeling and thus I could feel virtuous about reading it.
I gave up after about 50 pages. I like Joseph Epstein's "familiar essays" very much. I remember enjoying "Snobbery" and "Friendship" and "Envy," but I just couldn't get interested in this subject. I agree with Jeff that an essay (or magazine article) would have been enough. I am not interested in the people (celebrities, historical figures) he is relating the gossip about. Seemed like much ado about almost nothing.
"A fascinating speculation will almost always trump a dull explanation."

A confusing book. The author seesaws between condemning gossips and doing a great deal of gossiping himself. Also, the book was published in 2011, but he uses outdated terms like nymphomaniac and Friendster. I wish he'd done more of the Great Gossips of the Western World essays and less harrumphing.
As absorbing as its subject matter, the book argues convincingly that gossip is unavoidable, necessary and not always evil. As an added bonus, Epstein manages to deliver much gossip while offering it for study. Though some of his arguments seems a bit circular and the text can sometimes feel repetitive, you're driven to read on by what you might uncover. Deft, sly and thought-provoking.
Heather Downs
Epstein discusses the role of gossip in literature well. His diary entries about gossip are interesting to read and insightful on the role of gossip in contemporary life. If you are looking for more of a sociological analysis on gossip, then this is not the right book. I enjoyed reading it though.
A truly gifted writer. So many hilarious lines. A few:
"...one of the meanest things one can say about another person is that one finds him intrinsically too uninteresting to be worth gossiping about."
"...a fascinating speculation will always trump a dull explanation."
I read the first couple chapters of this book and it just wasn't what I thought it would be. I was looking for a sociological study of gossip. Epstein would make observations about gossip and then go on to share gossip...not quite what I was looking for.
I was pretty disappointed, I had hoped for a more scientific analysis of gossip. This is such an interesting topic,in this format it's just not my type of read.
Tiffany Davis
One wonders how a book on gossip can be so boring. One also wonders why one feels one must speak like this after one reads this book.
It would have been nice to see a more in-depth analysis of the psychology/sociology of gossip, not just dirt on celebrities.
It took the author an an entire book to express what could have been said in an essay.
Mar 07, 2012 Barb marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Looking forward to reading this. On a list of borrowers at the library!
May 21, 2012 Claudia marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
on my book club list.
Bianca Rodríguez
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