Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Five best books about etiquette

Laura Claridge, author of Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners, named a five best list of books about etiquette for the Wall Street Journal.

One title on the list:
The Civilizing Process
by Norbert Elias
Oxford, 1969

The German sociologist Norbert Elias's most important work, the two-volume "The Civilizing Process" (Über den Prozess der Zivilisation), was originally published in German during World War II, when Elias was living in England, having fled the Nazis. The work was little noticed for three decades, until the publication in 1969 of an English-language edition of the first volume. Meticulously tracking the historical developments of everything from post-medieval table manners to the modern mind-sets of men and women in the workplace, Elias explored how social attitudes shape the individual psyche. As courtly etiquette increasingly censured the public display of bodily functions, for instance, community standards changed to imitate principles valued by the nobility, and society developed a new "threshold of repugnance." Late in his life Elias became an intellectual celebrity, and since his death in 1990 he has come to be regarded as one of the most influential sociologists of the 20th century.
Read about the other four books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue