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.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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