Fame by Tom Payne
What the Classics Tell Us About Our Cult of Celebrity

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We may regard celebrities as deities, but that does not mean we worship them with deference. From prehistory to the present, humanity has possessed a primal urge first to exalt the famous but then to cut them down (Michael Jackson, anyone?). Why do we treat the ones we love like burnt offerings in a ritual of human sacrifice? Perhaps because that is exactly what they are.

From Greek mythology to the stories of the Christian martyrs and Dr. Faustus, Payne makes the fascinating argument that our relationship to celebrity is perilous, and that we wouldn't have it any other way. He also shows that the people we choose as our heroes and villains throughout the ages says a lot about ourselves—and what it says is often quite frightening. Fame even brings new life to all the literary figures from our high school English classes. In these pages, the most ephemeral reality television stars (those "famous for being famous") find themselves in the same VIP lounge as the characters of The Iliad. With great wit, scholarship, and insight, Tom Payne draws the narratives of the past and the present into one intriguing story.

Fame is a dazzling, hilarious look at the mortals, and the immortals—us and them.

About Tom Payne

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Tom Payne read Classics at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. For four years he was deputy literary editor of The Daily Telegraph.
Published October 26, 2010 by Picador. 288 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Fame

The New York Times

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Moving between ancient literature and today’s trashy tabloids, Tom Payne advances a persuasive, if unsettling, definition of what fame is and has ever been.

Dec 03 2010 | Read Full Review of Fame: What the Classics Tell ...

The Wall Street Journal

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Tom Payne's "Fame" examines modern celebrity through the lens of the ancient world, arguing that the Greeks and Romans can tell us much about our obsession with fame and our desire to punish celebrities for their "hubris."

Dec 27 2010 | Read Full Review of Fame: What the Classics Tell ...

AV Club

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A classics scholar smartly analyzes what ancient writings tell us about modern celebrity.

Oct 21 2010 | Read Full Review of Fame: What the Classics Tell ...

The Telegraph

Payne adds that whenever we judge beautiful people, there’s always been .

Aug 10 2009 | Read Full Review of Fame: What the Classics Tell ...

The Age

The Age: national, world, business, entertainment, sport and technology news from Melbourne's leading newspaper.

Oct 31 2009 | Read Full Review of Fame: What the Classics Tell ...

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