The Oxford Book of Work

The Oxford Book of Work

by Keith Thomas
     
 

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Primal curse or sacred duty? Painful drudgery or the only sure route to human happiness? Work has always evoked conflicting reactions. Yet whether we view it as a tedious necessity or embrace it as a compulsive addiction, it remains an inescapable and endlessly fascinating part of the human condition.
To illuminate the changing experience of work, this deeply

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Overview

Primal curse or sacred duty? Painful drudgery or the only sure route to human happiness? Work has always evoked conflicting reactions. Yet whether we view it as a tedious necessity or embrace it as a compulsive addiction, it remains an inescapable and endlessly fascinating part of the human condition.
To illuminate the changing experience of work, this deeply enjoyable anthology draws upon more than 500 writers from classical antiquity to modern times: poets, dramatists and novelists; theologians, economists and philosophers; social investigators and journalists; diarists, letter-writers and autobiographies. Charles Aickens, Adam Smith, Anthony Trollope, Mark Twain, Washington Irving, Karl Marx, Tolstoy, George Eliot, Henry Ford, John Steinbeck, Primo Levi, Upton Sinclair, Simone de Beauvoir, Robert Frost, Tom Wolfe, Harriot Martineau, Louisa Alcott, and Dorthy Parker are among the diverse and distinguished authors included in this volume.
While Keith Thomas explores many different forms of work--from ploughing a field to sailing the sea, from mining for coal to writing a poem, and from keeping shop to practicing medicine--he does not forget housework, schoolwork, and other forms of unpaid labor. All human life is here: young people starting work, the multitudes seeking employment, the old coping with retirement, and utopians seeking to eliminate work altogether. The delights of occupation and the harshness of compulsory labor are contrasted with the pleasures of rest and idleness.
Keith Thomas's magisterial compilation and scintillating introductory essay show that work does not just provide us with the means of subsistence; it also makes possible all the pleasures and acievements of civilization. The publication date for The Oxford Book of Work is Labor Day--September 6, 1999.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A phantasmagoric mixture of wit and witness."--Edward Rothstein, The New York Times

"Thomas makes labor come to life. An amazingly varied collection of poems, snippets of novels, newspaper articles, diaries, socialist denunciations and capitalist celebrations, from the farmers of ancient Greek times to modern office workers."--Richard Sennett, The Los Angeles Times Book Review

"An instant classic.... There's genuine wisdom and thoughtfulness on all of these pages about nothing less than our roles and responsibilities as human beings living in societies."--Forbes

Richard Sennett
Thomas, a historian at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, has put together an amazingly varied collection of poems, snippets of novels, newspaper articles, diaries, socialist denunciations and capitalist celebrations about the experience of working, from the farmers of ancients Greek times to modern office workers. The book is mercifully short on academic social-science treatises....Thomas makes labor come to life by charting a stark, great historical conflict between those who believe work is degrading and those who believe we fulfill ourselves through our jobs.
Los Angeles Times
Jeff Turrentine
This magnificent book represents the rarest ocurrence in all of publishing: an instant treasure. Sir Keith Thomas, the former president of the British Academy, has worked very hard indeed to compile these hundred of thoughtful passages that, taken together, represent the total spectrum of the complicated feelings we have about our jobs...our reasons for being, as much as we might protest the notion. Dead-end jobbers looking for cynical humor will find what they want here, as will titans of industry looking for inspirational hymns to labor's inherent nobility. There's genuine wisdom and thoughtfulness on all of these pages about nothing less than our roles and responsibilities as human beings living in societies.
Forbes FYI
Edward Rothstein
A phantasmagoric mixture of wit and witness.
—(The New York Times)
Baltimore Sun
Some of the most vivid and insightful writings about work.
Chicago Tribune
An incredible chorus of voices...all single-mindedly devoted to telling what work has really been about over the centuries.
Library Journal
Thomas (president, Corpus Christi Coll., Oxford; Religion and the Decline of Magic and Man and the Natural World) attempts to capture the many voices on labor in this anthology. Unfortunately, this gathering, weighted toward the voices of 18th- and 19th-century British male authors, is problematic. Given the preponderance of well-known works already indexed in other quotation sources, it is difficult to imagine much call for this resource. Aside from a scattering of poems and brief epigrams, most entries are longer excerpts that suffer from a lack of context, and the categories are inadequately focused and not supplemented by a subject or key word index. (There is an index of authors and sources quoted.) Additionally, the book's design makes it unwieldy; it is difficult to see where each entry begins and to locate its source. Recommended only for comprehensive reference collections in the literature of work and occupations.--Paula Dempsey, DePaul Univ. Lib., Chicago Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780192142177
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
09/16/1999
Pages:
656
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.90(d)

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