Around 700 BC Hesiod wrote: “Gossip is mischievous, light and easy to raise, but grievous to bear and hard to get rid of. No gossip ever dies away entirely if many people voice it: it too is a kind of divinity.” Divinity? I suppose so: if it cannot be expunged and lives on and on, it earns the title of divinity.

Since Hesiod, numerous works of fiction and nonfiction have been written in part or in toto about gossip. Now comes a short but sweet—sorry, tart—tome by that witty critic, perspicacious polemist, and well-read author Joseph Epstein, Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit.1 Epstein fills his book with anecdotes and biographies, historical and sociological data, droll speculations and saucy comments, and many personal experiences to form a compendious...

 

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