Gossip by Joseph Epstein
The Untrivial Pursuit

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Synopsis

Gossip is no trivial matter; despite its reputation, Epstein argues, it 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.

Written in his trademark erudite and witty style, Gossip captures the complexity of this immensely entertaining subject.
 

About Joseph Epstein

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Joseph Epstein is a long time resident of Chicago. Joseph Epstein has taught English and writing atNorthwestern for many years. He is the author of 22 books, many of them collections of essays, andhas also written for numerous magazines including the New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Commentary.
 
Published November 29, 2011 by Mariner Books. 274 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Gossip

Kirkus Reviews

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Naturally, the author lays the much of the blame for this on the Internet, bolstering his case with persuasive examples—blogs, social-networking posts and “news” websites that charge both public and private figures with bad behavior, essentially reversing the “innocent until proven guilty” dictum...

Sep 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit

The New York Times

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Joseph Epstein argues that gossip serves a number of worthwhile purposes.

Dec 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit

The New York Times

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Joseph Epstein argues that gossip serves a number of worthwhile purposes.

Dec 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit

Publishers Weekly

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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 a...

Jun 06 2011 | Read Full Review of Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit

The Wall Street Journal

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What a fine old time Joseph Epstein is having in his 70s, still adding to his essays, criticism, columns, short stories and more than 20 books, his latest being "Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit."

Nov 26 2011 | Read Full Review of Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit

The Washington Times

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Mr. Epstein profiles some of the well-known official gossips, including Walter Winchell, Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, then demonstrates how recent evolutions in journalism make it difficult for a gossip columnist to make an honest, if tawdry, buck.

Dec 09 2011 | Read Full Review of Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit

USA Today

Three reasons why you might read Joseph Epstein's exhaustive and exhausting study of gossip: You're an unabashed gossiper wanting to learn more than anyone could possibly want to know about the subject;

Dec 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit

Dallas News

Regarding private gossip — that which escapes notice in mass media — Epstein suggests qualities include the matter under consideration be “feasible, uncheckable and deeply damning.” As for public gossip, Epstein finds it useful to consider in their own categories talk about contemporary celebriti...

Dec 09 2011 | Read Full Review of Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit

San Francisco Chronicle

A Chicago essayist, editor (formerly of the American Scholar) and fiction writer whose many books include "Snobbery," "Friendship" and "Envy," Epstein divides this study of what he calls the Untrivial Pursuit into sections on Private Gossip, Public Gossip and Private Become Public.

Dec 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit

Slate

He even literally recommends gossip as a way of meeting that high standard set by Henry James: to be “a person upon whom nothing was lost.” Epstein is particularly admiring of those gossip hounds of old, from the Duke of Saint-Simon and Hugh Trevor-Roper, to Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh, who ra...

Dec 05 2011 | Read Full Review of Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit

Macleans

That we see in his profiles of “great gossips of history,” who include Saint-Simon, the gossip laureate at Versailles during the court of Louis XIV, and Matt Drudge, who calls gossip “unedited information.” Epstein is not an unequivocal gossip cheerleader, however, recognizing that it’s a distra...

Jan 06 2012 | Read Full Review of Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit

Bookmarks Magazine

Contemporary gossip claims to reveal truth, but as Epstein shows, it’s our belief in truth itself that may be destroyed by gossip. Written in his trademark erudite and witty style, Gossip captures the complexity of this immensely entertaining subject.

Nov 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit

Chicago Sun Times

Over the years Joseph Epstein has turned his keen eyes and pen to broad subjects with which all of us are familiar — snobbery, friendship, envy, ambition — so it should come as no surprise that he now addresses himself to gossip.

Jan 02 2012 | Read Full Review of Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit

Canadian Business

But as gossip ringleader Ben Franklin said, “Three may keep a secret if two are dead.” Epstein agrees, and it’s “because of this, gossip, I think we may be assured, will never go out of business.” So you might as well hit the water cooler and enjoy it.

Dec 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit

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