Status Anxiety

Jennifer Levasseur in the Times Picayunne
25 July 2004
It’s a common sight. A lover’s quarrel between a young man and woman – say, at a coffee shop – erupts. The woman screams, shakes her fist, curses, points. She hurls her drink at the man, nearly overturning her chair as she scrambles to make a dramatic exit. No one seems to mind. Read more

Adam Baer in The Atlantic Monthly
June 2004
In his new book, Status Anxiety, de Botton takes readers on a tour through the history of ideas—economic, sociological, and political— to tackle the problem of “status anxiety,” which he characterizes as “a worry, so pernicious as to be capable of ruining extended stretches of our lives.” Read more

Jon Garelick in the Boston Phoenix
20 June 2004
Status Anxiety provides yet another angle from which de Botton can criss-cross the history of Western civilization, the book neatly divided between “Causes” (Lovelessness, Expectation, Meritocracy, Snobbery, Dependence) and “Solutions” (Philosophy, Art, Politics, Religion, Bohemia). Read more

Michael Upchurch in the Seattle Times
20 June 2004
Now comes “Status Anxiety,” his richest, funniest, most heartfelt work yet, packed with erudition and brimming with an elegant originality of mind. (Has anyone else drawn such strong parallels between the status-quo-subverting characteristics of New Testament Christianity and artist-in-a-garret bohemianism? Not that I know of.) Read more

Ian Wedde in the New Zealand Listener
19 June 2004
Alain de Botton is wildly successful – seven books and two (coming up three) BBC television programmes (and a new baby expected) by the age of 35. We met in the posh luncheon environs of the Boulcott St Bistro in Wellington. Read more

John McMurtrie in the San Francisco Chronicle
13 June 2004
If we are what we drive, the SUV has a lot to say about us. A dangerous behemoth that is a far greater threat to the environment than other automobiles, it’s also a four-wheeled middle finger to those around it, a rolling fortress that boasts of its gleaming enormousness and begs for our jaws to drop in awe. Read more

John Freeman in the Boston Globe
6 June 2004
In his latest book, ”Status Anxiety,” Alain de Botton argues that along with the rest of the Western world, Americans are in the throes of an epidemic of status anxiety. By his definition, that is not merely a craving for material goods and respect from peers; at its core, status anxiety represents a desire for love. Read more

David Gilmour in The Globe and Mail
5 June 2004
There’s something depressing about a Paul McCartney world tour – not those wonderful Beatles tunes, but the fact that McCartney still seems to need the applause. Is it uncharitable to say that he should have outgrown it by now? Read more

Marc Mohan in the Oregonian
30 May 2004
His latest effort, “Status Anxiety,” uses the same techniques to address the sources of, and solutions to, that ubiquitous impulse known in the vernacular as “keeping up with the Joneses.” Read more

Zulfikar Abbany in the Sydney Morning Herald
22 May 2004
In this age when almost everything is in some way “sexed up”, Alain de Botton makes talk of love seem not crass but essential: “Our need for love remains unwavering, no less steady or insistent than it might have been in infancy; an imbalance between our requirements and the uncertain conditions of the world that contributes a stubborn fifth pillar on which our status anxieties rest.” Read more

Jonathan Ree in the TLS
14 May 2004
This is philosophy in the manner of Montaigne or Thomas Browne rather than Descartes or John Locke: a gentle stoicism reminding us that when things do not pan out as we would like, it may be better to amend our desires than to try changing the world. Read more

Maureen Gaffney in Irish Times
1 May 2004
After reading a newspaper profile of someone prominent and successful, do you find that you sometimes react with a preoccupied gaze, a brittle smile? Read more

Luke Slattery in The Australian
3 April 2004
Novelist and essayist Alain de Botton has a new work, titled Status Anxiety, pending publication in May; and if the book as a whole is anything like the fillet from it published in Britain’s Financial Times last month, it will make an instant mark. The subject – social hierarchies and personal status – is universal and de Botton’s treatment lucid and accessible. Read more

Kirkus Reviews
1 April 2004
First of all, the author insists, this is not all our fault. For almost two millennia society actually celebrated the poor who were – fortunately for society – locked down in place on the agrarian, feudal landscape doing its dirtiest and most essential jobs. Read more

Robert Yates in Esquire, March 2004
14 January 2007
“Loser, loser…” As insults go, few are more likely to sting. Think about it: maybe you’d prefer to be tagged a fraud or a shit, since these imply you’ve at least had some effect on the world. Read more

Frederic Raphael in the Spectator
25 March 2004
It’s no surprise that one of Alain de Botton’s favoured sources, in a text well-sprigged with neat citations, should be Matthew Arnold: sweetness and enlightenment are their common contributions to a culture in which anarchy is the liveliest art form. Read more

Clemency Burton-Hill in Time Out London
24 March 2004
‘Status Anxiety’ charts the Western world’s slide into angst, where capitalist societies peddle the warped values of the American Dream, trade on the crippling insecurity that arises as a by-product, nurture the idea that our self-worth is calibrated by how others perceive us, and fuel an obsession with material riches and celebrity. Read more

Andrew Roberts in the New Statesman
22 March 2004
I suffer acutely from status anxiety. There, I’ve said it. I’ve come out as a chronic sufferer from a modern disease so shameful that it hardly dares speak its name. According to Alain de Botton’s perceptive study, anxiety about our place in society is the modern world’s dirty little secret. Read more

Andrew Martin in Daily Express
12 March 2004
In the book, de Botton looks at a very modern complaint: our anxiety about where we stand in society and identifies the horrible force in “004 of the accusation, “loser”. The root of the modem neurosis is, for de Botton, the American Revolution of 1776, which marked the beginning of the transition from rigid, hierarchical societies to open, financially competitive ones. Read more

Lloyd Evans in the Daily Mail
12 March 2004
This book opens with a strange proposition. Alain de Botton invites us to consider the living conditions of a medieval peasant and to ask if we’re happier than he was. Read more

Jeanette Winterson in The Times
6 March 2004
Does modern life make us happy? Prompted by Alain de Botton’s new book, I asked 40 people this question, and every one of them said no. Too fast, too loud, impersonal, no values were common complaints, side by side with insecurity – particularly at work. Read more

Geraldine Bedell in The Observer
29 February 2004
Alain de Botton, distiller of droplets of culture for general edification, has a new subject, which he explores in a book and an accompanying Channel 4 documentary, both called Status Anxiety. With his customary command of the philosophical and literary canon, de Botton sets out to examine why the fragile modern self depends so crucially on the good opinions of others and what we might do in order to feel better about it. Read more

Sam Leith in the Telegraph
6 March 2004
Does everyone think I’m a featherbrain. Why have they only given me Alain de Botton to review? Why not that clever-sounding new book about Browning? Why not Conrad Black’s biography of FDR? Read more

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