A short history of celebrity by Fred Inglis

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By Fred Inglis

Like it or hate it, superstar is likely one of the dominant good points of contemporary life-and one of many least understood. Fred Inglis units out to right this challenge during this wonderful and enlightening social historical past of recent megastar, from eighteenth-century London to modern-day Hollywood. Vividly written and brimming with attention-grabbing tales of figures whose lives mark vital moments within the heritage of big name, this Read more...

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The Whitbreads started out as minor Bedfordshire squires, and three generations later their brewery brought in £8,000 a year. 5 George Culley, another northerner, started out driving a coal-cart and ended master of Fowberry Tower. ”6 And they took their money to London, to build there, to vacation, to gape and bow at their betters, to gamble, to buy industrial plant for their businesses and dresses for their wives, to patronise coffeehouses, brothels (“bagnios”), theatres, pleasure gardens: to look at, to be seen, to spend.

The third contribution made by the delicate emotional reckonings of such as Henry James and Virginia Woolf was to settle the idea of the individual at the centre of modern ethics, and that individual is defined as such in virtue of the self-possession of his or her feelings. These feelings express the moral preferences of the person,20 and there is no arguing about how those preferences are arrived at. Each individual is defined as such by being in possession of preferences arising from his or her feelings and held as a matter of right as well as accorded the respect due to rights.

Mostly, no doubt, the individual keeps up the defence of individuality by feeling something. But it is a feature of the modern sensibility and its regulated circulation of feeling, reflection, revision, evaluation, that this orderly sequence, while to itself seeming perfectly rational, need lead to no consequent action. Carefully considered inaction is the daily condition of modernity, accompanied by those feelings we find appropriate to our 32 chapter 2 dispositions, all this largely confirmed by the sheer difficulty of discovering significant forms of action in the corporate and institutional routines of bureaucratised life.

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