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The Oxford Book of Work

by Keith Thomas

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Primal curse or sacred duty? Drudgery and toil or the only sure route to human happiness? What we do defines us, and work is the subject of endless fascination. This anthology explores the nature of work and our attitudes to it from God's first punishment to the present day. It draws uponthe imaginative writing of novelists and poets and also on the works of theologians, economists, and philosophers; social investigators and journalists; and diarists, letter writers and autobiographers, all those who have analysed, observed, and portrayed the experience of work.As well as illustrating some of the occupations in which we earn our living, from physical labour to intellectual pursuits, from agriculture and industry to the City and the law courts, The Oxford Book of Work shows how the experience of work has changed over time, and how workers have respondedto, and writers represented, that changing experience. It considers the meaning of work that is done under physical compulsion and out of economic necessity and the validity of housework, schoolwork, and other kinds of unrewarded labour. Rest, leisure, and idleness exist in opposition to work andthe effects of redundancy and retirement are not overlooked. Keith Thomas's magisterial compilation and scintillating introductory essay show that while work provides us with a means of subsistence, it also makes possible all the pleasures and achievements of civilization.… (more)

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