Pretentiousness: Why It Matters

Dan Fox. Coffee House (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-56689-428-9
In a stirring defense, British art critic Fox delves into the etymology and history of pretentiousness. Class identity, Fox argues, is at the core of pretentiousness. When pretentious is used as an insult, it’s mainly “an informal tool of class surveillance,” or maybe just a way to call out those above one’s own station. Unlike its common synonyms, pompousness and self-importance, pretentiousness, it turns out, is linked directly to the theater and acting. Fox makes clear how certain types of performances and acts are interwoven in the masks or selves that people adopt in everyday life. He argues that the subtleties of who or what gets labeled pretentious pervade our modern lives, and often those who are called pretentious simply “brave being different” in the world by taking “a stand against creative consensus.” He explains how his own middle-class upbringing in Oxfordshire left him with the feeling that pretension was something positive. His book stands as a convincing philosophical investigation into a wide-ranging concept that governs much of the way people behave. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/2016
Release date: 04/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 170 pages - 978-1-56689-429-6
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