Books: To Be A Snob Or Not To Be

Joseph Epstein's wry and erudite Snobbery suggests that Americans can get awfully snooty

"It Takes one to Know One" is the title of the opening chapter of Joseph Epstein's engaging taxonomy of snobbery. The self-awareness is laudable but also necessary, for it is impossible to write a book about snobs without being one.

Epstein, one of America's best essayists, is a snob of the intellectual variety, which means he's a reverse snob. In other words, he disdains the trendy: "Sometimes all it takes for me to drop an enthusiasm is the knowledge that someone I think commonplace has picked it up." Candor always takes the sting out of snobbery.

In Snobbery (Houghton...

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