The Oxford Book of Work

Front Cover
Keith Thomas
Oxford University Press, 1999 - Business & Economics - 618 pages
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Primal curse or sacred duty? Painful drudgery or the only sure route to human happiness? Work has always evoked conflicting reactions. Yet whether we view it as a tedious necessity or embrace it as a compulsive addiction, it remains an inescapable and endlessly fascinating part of the human condition.
To illuminate the changing experience of work, this deeply enjoyable anthology draws upon more than 500 writers from classical antiquity to modern times: poets, dramatists and novelists; theologians, economists and philosophers; social investigators and journalists; diarists, letter-writers and autobiographies. Charles Aickens, Adam Smith, Anthony Trollope, Mark Twain, Washington Irving, Karl Marx, Tolstoy, George Eliot, Henry Ford, John Steinbeck, Primo Levi, Upton Sinclair, Simone de Beauvoir, Robert Frost, Tom Wolfe, Harriot Martineau, Louisa Alcott, and Dorthy Parker are among the diverse and distinguished authors included in this volume.
While Keith Thomas explores many different forms of work--from ploughing a field to sailing the sea, from mining for coal to writing a poem, and from keeping shop to practicing medicine--he does not forget housework, schoolwork, and other forms of unpaid labor. All human life is here: young people starting work, the multitudes seeking employment, the old coping with retirement, and utopians seeking to eliminate work altogether. The delights of occupation and the harshness of compulsory labor are contrasted with the pleasures of rest and idleness.
Keith Thomas's magisterial compilation and scintillating introductory essay show that work does not just provide us with the means of subsistence; it also makes possible all the pleasures and acievements of civilization. The publication date for The Oxford Book of Work is Labor Day--September 6, 1999.

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Contents

Work Defined as Intrinsically Unpleasant
8
Economic Necessity
23
Reluctant Workers
62
COMPENSATIONS AND REWARDS
78
Work as the Distinguishing Human Attribute
90
Work as Religious Duty
96
The Division of Labour
109
Work as Social Discipline
120
Threshers
345
Sailors
360
Craftsmen
364
Miners
381
Factory Workers
396
Shopkeepers and Salesmen
402
Sweepers Cleaners and Shovellers
413
Waitresses and Waiters
423

Work as the Route to Human Sociability
133
The Pleasures of Occupation
140
Singing at Work
156
Work as a Remedy for Grief
159
Work as Addiction
169
The Tedium of Idleness
185
The Psychological Necessity of Work
201
Looking for a Job
207
Beginners
219
The Daily Grind
237
Recreation and Weekends
244
Holidays
256
womens work and child labour
273
Housework by Men
298
WORKING THE LAND AND SEA
308
Rural Crafts
318
Tillers of the Soil
331
HEAD WORK
435
Ojce Workers
446
Clergy Doctors and Lawyers
455
Schoolteachers
474
Writers
482
Students Scholars and Scientists
492
DISSATISFACTIONS
507
The Tyranny of the Clock
515
ob Insecurity
525
Inequity of Conditions and Rewards
532
Direct and Indirect
545
In Defence of Idleness
559
Towards Utopia
567
LIFE AFTER WORK
587
Acknowledgements
602
Index of Authors and Sources Quoted
613
Copyright

About the author (1999)


Sir Keith Thomas is President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and a former President of the British Academy. He is the author of Religion and the Decline of Magic (1971), Man and the Natural World (1983), and many other writings on the social and cultural history of early modern England. He is General Editor of Past Masters and Oxford Studies in Social History.

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