Elisabeth Wallace's Reviews > Class: A Guide Through the American Status System

Class by Paul Fussell
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's review
Dec 23, 2008

really liked it

The greatest drawback to this witty little volume is that it was written over twenty years ago. Since it is a backhanded social commentary, it has lost some of its application. However, the writing of Fussell has lost none of its lustre. No matter how ridiculous the observation, it is justified with a voice full of entitlement. Here he expounds on his posit that the dog surpasses the cat as the pet preferred by the upper classes:
" Rousseau:'Do you like cats?'
Boswell: 'No.'
Rousseau: 'I was sure of that. It is my test of character. There you have the despotic instinct of men. They do not like cats because the cat is free, and will never consent to become a slave. He will do nothing at your order, as other animals do.'
Thus the upper orders' fondness for a species they can order about, like their caterers, gardeners, and lawyers, and one that fawns the more its commanded. 'Sit! That's a good boy.'
And insights that still ring true today:
"Not smoking at all is very upper-class, but in any way calling attention to one's abstinence drops one to middle class immediately."
Thus, this book does not cease to amuse and offend with its unapologetic elitism.
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