Sincerity: How a moral ideal born five hundred years ago inspired religious wars, modern art, hipster chic, and the curious notion that we all have something to say (no matter how dull) [NOOK Book]

Overview

“A serious and engaging cultural history painted on an admirably large canvas.”—Laura Kipnis, New York Times Book Review


What do John Calvin, Sarah Palin, Jean-Jacques Rosseau, and Bon Iver have in common? A preoccupation with sincerity. With deep historical perspective and a brilliant contemporary spin, R. Jay Magill Jr. tells the beguiling tale of sincerity’s theological past, its current emotional resonance, and the deep impact it has had on the Western soul. At a time when ...

See more details below
Sincerity: How a moral ideal born five hundred years ago inspired religious wars, modern art, hipster chic, and the curious notion that we all have something to say (no matter how dull)

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.49
BN.com price
(Save 34%)$15.95 List Price

Overview

“A serious and engaging cultural history painted on an admirably large canvas.”—Laura Kipnis, New York Times Book Review


What do John Calvin, Sarah Palin, Jean-Jacques Rosseau, and Bon Iver have in common? A preoccupation with sincerity. With deep historical perspective and a brilliant contemporary spin, R. Jay Magill Jr. tells the beguiling tale of sincerity’s theological past, its current emotional resonance, and the deep impact it has had on the Western soul. At a time when politicians are scrutinized less for the truth of what they say than for how much they really mean it, Sincerity provides a wide-ranging examination of a moral ideal that remains a strange magnetic north in our secular moral compass.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
…wrests a surprisingly dramatic story out of what otherwise seems like wrung-out idiom…Sincerity is a serious and engaging cultural history painted on an admirably large canvas, yet Magill is careful not to take himself too seriously, as evidenced in his snarky asides and chatty footnotes.
—Laura Kipnis
Publishers Weekly
Cultural critic Magill (Chic Ironic Bitterness) condenses 500 years of philosophy, religion, language, art, fashion, and politics into an energetic but dense analysis of the shifting meanings and uses of sincerity in Western Europe and the United States. His well-researched account (subtitled How a Moral Ideal Born Five Hundred Years Ago Inspired Religious Wars, Modern Art, Hipster Chic, and the Curious Notion That We All Have Something to Say (No Matter How Dull)) begins with the word’s disputed linguistic origins and ends with Sarah Palin, who is “certainly sincere in her belief that she is a maverick. She’s just not right about it.” Along the way, readers encounter the court of Henry VIII, Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses, Montaigne’s library as he searches for “honesty with himself,” and Machiavelli’s claims that religion and politics “should not cross.” Magill dissects the ambitions of Puritans, the maxims of La Rochefoucauld, and the Discourse of Rousseau, all while quoting liberally from other figures as he zooms to the 20th century. Nietzsche’s claim that “‘sincerity finally turns against morality itself’” marks a shift. Enter Freud, then the Surrealists. Magill proves most lively as he brings the reader up to date; his Hipster Semiotic Appendix demonstrates his acuity and sense of humor. However, this burst of fun may be too little, too late, given the overwhelming nature of Magill’s exhaustive sourcing. (July)
New York Times Book Review
Sincerity is a serious and engaging cultural history painted on an admirably large canvas, yet Magill is careful not to take himself too seriously, as evidenced in his snarky asides and chatty footnotes. He wraps up on an eminently reasonable note: society needs both sincerity and insincerity. You can’t go too far in either direction: neither the frothy superficiality of court society nor the deadly purposefulness of the French Revolution. Who can argue with that?— Laura Kipnis
Wall Street Journal
Fascinating. . . . Mr. Magill’s range is extraordinary, and his wit, erudition and powers of observation give credence to [his] judgments.— Daniel Akst
New Republic
Intriguing. . . . Magill agilely traces his subject through the ages.— Rachel Shteir
Daniel Akst - Wall Street Journal
“Fascinating. . . . Mr. Magill’s range is extraordinary, and his wit, erudition and powers of observation give credence to [his] judgments.”
Rachel Shteir - New Republic
“Intriguing. . . . Magill agilely traces his subject through the ages.”
Laura Kipnis - New York Times Book Review
“Sincerity is a serious and engaging cultural history painted on an admirably large canvas, yet Magill is careful not to take himself too seriously, as evidenced in his snarky asides and chatty footnotes. He wraps up on an eminently reasonable note: society needs both sincerity and insincerity. You can’t go too far in either direction: neither the frothy superficiality of court society nor the deadly purposefulness of the French Revolution. Who can argue with that?”
Library Journal
This sophisticated meditation on the history and significance of the concept of sincerity and its evolution across several centuries is not an easy read, but for those willing to follow the author's witty narrative, it is a rewarding one (particularly in a presidential election year, given the political use of sincerity in our culture). The book's subtitle reflects the scholarliness, humor, and humanity with which Magill (Chronic Ironic Bitterness) writes. An editor and writer at the American Academy in Berlin, he begins his book with a discussion of the 16th-century English Protestant reformer John Firth and ends with Sarah Palin ("sincere in her belief that she is a marverick," but "just not right about it"). Magill spans disciplines (history, art history, religious studies, politics) and centuries to address his subject. A "Hipster Semiotic Appendix" is a wonderfully wry add-on, and one can imagine that two recently deceased men who knew about sincerity and silliness, Christopher Hitchens and Maurice Sendak, would approve of the whole enterprise. VERDICT It is difficult to generalize about this book's potential audience but easy to predict that anti-intellectuals need not apply.—Ellen Gilbert, Princeton, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
An illumination of the shifting attitudes and ambivalence toward a value that society claims to hold in high esteem. The topic and treatment suggest an academic inquiry, but Magill (Chic Ironic Bitterness, 2007) engages readers with a style that is more conversational than scholastic. The author examines sincerity from a variety of perspectives--religious, philosophical, political, sociological, artistic--as Western culture has alternately feared sincerity, embraced it, or denied the very possibility of it. Perhaps the crux of Magill's argument comes with his assertion that sincerity and irony, rather than polar opposites, are complementary correctives, with the latter exposing the hypocrisies within professions of the former. The author covers a lot of ground, as he traces the early equation of sincerity with heresy as a challenge to the dogmatic authority of the Catholic Church, through the peculiar attitudes toward authenticity taken by Beats, hippies and hipsters. In the "Hipster Semiotic Appendix," Magill analyzes the significance of hipster totems, including the trucker hat: "It has become so tired that even to talk about how tiresome it is has itself become tiresome." The author hopscotches his way through Montaigne and Machiavelli, Emerson and Rousseau, Duchamp and Warhol, and he encapsulates Kerouac and Sartre within the space of a couple of paragraphs ("Sincerity for Sartre is an unachievable state. The fundamental nature of man is that he is insincere in all things"). Ultimately, Magill concludes that "society…likes to turn sincerity on and off when it wants." Sincerity proves to be a richer, more provocative topic than readers might initially suspect.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393084191
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/9/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 875,639
  • File size: 779 KB

Meet the Author

R. Jay Magill, Jr. is an independent scholar living in Berlin, where he works for the American Academy as a writer and editor, as well as a host of a radio program on NPR Worldwide. He is the author of Chic Ironic Bitterness, published in 2007, and from 1999-2005 was an editor, staff writer, and then Executive Editor of the National Magazine Award winning DoubleTake Magazine. During that time, Magill was also a teaching fellow at Harvard University, for which he received the Derek Bok award. He has written for, among other publications, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Atlantic Monthly, Foreign Policy, American Prospect, Der Spiegel, and Print; and as an illustrator he has produced scores of political cartoons and caricatures for a variety of newspapers, periodicals (e.g. The Believer), posters, and books (e.g. The Ultimate Guide to the US Economy). Since 2005 he has been a staff illustrator at the political bimonthly The American Interest, in Washington, DC.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction 11

I Reform Thyself! 23

II A Saint's Heart 45

III Those Tricky Bourgeois Gentlemen 61

IV Natural Man Redeemed 79

V Romantic Escapes 94

VI Cascading Cynicism 118

VII Long Live "Sincerity" 168

VIII Hip Affected Earnestness 194

Hipster Semiotic Appendix 215

Epilogue 223

Acknowledgments 235

Notes 239

Bibliography 249

Index 259

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)