Paul Fussell, author, cultural critic, and "public curmudgeon" in the words of his New York Times obituary, died Wednesday at 88. His influence was wide-ranging so while some might remember him best for his epic history, The Great War and Modern Memory, others might remember his polemic BAD: Or, the Dumbing of America.
In 2009, The Atlantic published Sandra Tsing Loh's fond musing on his observations about American class in Class: A Guide Through the American Status System, in which he divided society into nine distinct groups. Tsing Loh wrote:
The experience of reading (and re-reading) Class is akin to wiping goggles one didn’t know were fogged. Fussell’s methodology settles into the brain like a virus; one soon cannot stop nanocategorizing one’s world. A quarter century later, most of Fussell’s categories live on—if with some fiscal damage.
You were occasionally quite stinging to us, Paul, but we imagine American will miss you nonetheless.
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