Obsession with work? Not I

Work: A History of How We Spend Our Time
James Suzman
Bloomsbury, £12.99, pp464

The epigraph for anthropologist James Suzman’s magisterial examination of the role work plays in our lives is aptly taken from Larkin’s poem Toads – “why should I let the toad work/ Squat on my life?” Suzman reassesses everyday labour not as a necessity performed to earn money, but as something that dominates and even destroys our lives. He contrasts our stress with the happier lives of tribesmen and our pre-technological ancestors and asks, provocatively, whether the current pandemic might have the unexpected upside of allowing us to change our destructive obsession with work.

from the Grauniad.

Hah! only the so-called ‘professional’ class (actually, overseers, gatekeepers, soft police, middlemen, scammers, rentiers and pompous priests) have this obsession; the ruling classes and the serfs do not. The true middle class definitional obsession: that their work is meaningful.

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