Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Joseph Epstein  

Pen Name: Aristides - for articles, essays and book reviews to magazines and journals

Genre: Fiction Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1937 in Chicago Illinois

-- Joseph Epstein on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Epstein is a Chicago native. He grew up in Rogers Park and graduated from the University of Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Joseph Epstein is an essayist, short story writer, novelist and editor, best known as a former editor of the Phi Beta Kappa Society's ''The American Scholar'' magazine and for his recent essay collection, ''Snobbery: The American Version''. He was a lecturer at Northwestern University from 1974 to 2002 and now holds emeritus status. He is a Contributing Editor at ''The Weekly Standard'' and a long-time contributor of essays and short stories to The New Criterion and Commentary. His stories prominently feature the city of Chicago and the characters that have populated his 70 years as an observer of the city.

Published Works

  • Divorced in America, Marriage in an Age of Possibility, Dutton, 1974
  • Divorce: The American Experience, Cape, 1975
  • Familiar Territory: Observations on American Life, Oxford University Press, 1979
  • Ambition: The Secret Passion, Dutton, 1980
  • The Middle of My Tether: Familiar Essays, Norton, 1983
  • Plausible Prejudices: Essays On American Writing, Norton, 1985
  • Once More Around the Block: Familiar Essays, Norton, 1987
  • Partial Payments, Essays on Writers and Their Lives, Norton, 1989
  • A Line Out for a Walk: Familiar Essays, Norton, 1991
  • The Goldin Boys: Stories, Norton, 1991
  • Pertinent Players: Essays on the Literary Life, Norton, 1993
  • With My Trousers Rolled, Norton, 1995
  • Life Sentences: Literary Essays, Norton, 1997
  • Narcissus Leaves the Pool: Familiear Essays, Houghton Mifflin, 1999
  • Snobbery: The American Version, Houghton Mifflin, 2002
  • Fabulous Small Jews: Stories, Houghton Mifflin, 2003
  • Envy: The Seven Deadly Sins, Oxford University Press, 2006
  • Friendship: An Expose, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006
  • In a Cardboard Belt!: Essays Personal, Literary, and Savage, Mariner, 2008
  • Alexis De Tocqueville: Democracy's Guide, Harper Perennial, 2009
  • Fred Astaire, Yale University Press, 2009

Selected Titles At Your Library

Familiar territory :
ISBN: 0195026047. OCLC Number:

Oxford University Press,. New York :. 1979.

Ambition, the secret passion /
ISBN: 0929587189. OCLC Number:

Elephant Paperbacks,. Chicago :. 1989, ©1980.

The middle of my tether :
ISBN: 0393304078. OCLC Number:

Norton,. New York ;. 1987, ©1983.

Once more around the block :
ISBN: 0393024423. OCLC Number:

Norton,. New York :. ©1987.

A line out for a walk :
ISBN: 0393308545. OCLC Number:

W.W. Norton,. New York :. [1992], ©1991.

With my trousers rolled :
ISBN: 0393037576. OCLC Number:

Norton,. New York :. ©1995.

Over the last twenty years Joseph Epstein has published more than eighty familiar essays. Taken together, these essays constitute a continuing autobiography. Although the tone in this collection, his fifth - which owes its title to T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"--Is still highly amused, these new essays also strike a chord that's slightly elegiac. Offering reflections on his increased maturity both as a writer and as a man, Epstein admits to feeling more and more on the periphery of contemporary life - "Nicely Out of It," and not at all minding this. "Decline and Blumenthal" is his take on the endemic slippage of standards in all realms of life. In "Here to Buy Mink," he conveys his love and admiration for the remarkable woman who was his mother.

Snobbery :
ISBN: 0395944171. OCLC Number:

Houghton Mifflin,. Boston :. ©2002.

Joseph Epstein's witty new book surveys American snobbery after the fall of the old Wasp culture of prep schools, Ivy League colleges, cotillions, debutante balls, the Social Register, and the rest of it. With ample humor and insight, Epstein uncovers the new outlets upon which the old snobbery has fastened: food and wine, fashion, high-achieving children, schools, politics, health, being with-it, name-dropping, and much else, including the roles of Jews and homosexuals in the development of snobbery. Playing throughout the book is the question of whether snobbery is part of human nature.--From publisher description.

Alexis de Tocqueville :
ISBN: 006176888X. OCLC Number:

HarperCollins e-books,. Pymble, NSW ;. 2006.

Fred Astaire /
ISBN: 0300158440. OCLC Number:

Yale University Press,. New Haven :. ©2008.

"Joseph Epstein's Fred Astaire investigates the great dancer's magical talent, taking up the story of his life, his personality, his work habits, his modest pretensions, and above all his accomplishments. Written with the wit and grace the subject deserves, Fred Astaire provides a remarkable portrait of this extraordinary artist and how he came to embody for Americans a fantasy of easy elegance and, paradoxically, of democratic aristocracy." "Tracing Astaire's life from his birth in Omaha to his death in his late eighties in Hollywood, the book discusses his early days with his talented and outspoken sister Adele, his gifts as a singer (Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Jerome Kern all delighted in composing for Astaire), and his many movie dance partners, among them Cyd Charisse, Rita Hayworth, Eleanor Powell, and Betty Hutton."--Jacket.


Harold Washington Literary Award in 1998 for his body of work. Chicago Tribune's Heartland Prize for

Partial Payments

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)