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J'suis snob - Boris Vian

Related: class - dandy - elitism - intellectuals - taste


  1. One who affects an offensive air of self-satisfied superiority in matters of taste or intellect. --Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

A snob, guilty of snobbery or snobbism, is a person who imitates the manners, adopts the world-view and apes the lifestyle of a social class of people to which that person does not by right belong. A snob is perceived by those being imitated as an "arriviste", perhaps nouveau riche, and the elite group closes ranks to exclude such outsiders, often by developing elaborate social codes, symbolic status and recognizable marks of language. The snobs in response refine their behavior model (Norbert Elias 1983). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snob [Apr 2005]


Snobbishly aloof; haughty.

High-class; exclusive.

Art snob

"The Art Snob can be recognized in the home by the quick look he gives the pictures on your walls, quick but penetrating, as though he were undressing them. This is followed either by complete and pained silence or a comment such as "That's really a very pleasant little water color you have there."" –Russell Lynes, Snobs Harper 50

"The Art Snob will stand back from a picture at some distance, his head cocked slightly to one side. ... After a long period of gazing (during which he may occasionally squint his eyes), he will approach to within a few inches of the picture and examine the brushwork; he will then return to his former distant position, give the picture another glance and walk away." –Russell Lynes, Snobs Harper 50

Lynes' interest was in the social phenomenon of art. He wrote numerous books and articles on taste. His books on American taste and manners. In books such as Snobs, The Tastemakers, and Highbrow, Lowbrow, Middlebrow, were satirical and popular. Lynes criticized American conservative preferences in art and architecture along with a general ridicule of pretentious people. --http://www.dictionaryofarthistorians.org/lynesr.htm [Jun 2006]

Russell Lynes, "Highbrow, Lowbrow, Middlebrow," Harper's, February 1949, p. 19.

Am I A Snob: Modernism and the Novel (2003) - Sean Latham

Am I A Snob: Modernism and the Novel (2003) - Sean Latham [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Sean Latham’s appealingly written book "Am I a Snob?" traces the evolution of the figure of the snob through the works of William Makepeace Thackeray, Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and Dorothy Sayers. Each of these writers played a distinctive role in the transformation of the literary snob from a vulgar social climber into a master of taste. In the process, some novelists and their works became emblems of sophistication, treated as if they were somehow apart from or above the fiction of the popular marketplace, while others found a popular audience. Latham argues that both coterie writers like Joyce and popular novelists like Sayers struggled desperately to combat their own pretensions. By portraying snobs in their novels, they attempted to critique and even transform the cultural and economic institutions that they felt isolated them from the broad readership they desired.

Latham regards the snobbery that emerged from and still clings to modernism not as an unfortunate by-product of aesthetic innovation, but as an ongoing problem of cultural production. Drawing on the tools and insights of literary sociology and cultural studies, he traces the nineteenth-century origins of the "snob," then explores the ways in which modernist authors developed their own snobbery as a means of coming to critical consciousness regarding the connections among social, economic, and cultural capital. The result, Latham asserts, is a modernism directly engaged with the cultural marketplace yet deeply conflicted about the terms of its success.

See also: snob - modernist literature - British literature

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