Cover image for Conversation
Zeldin, Theodore, 1933-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Mahwah, N.J. : HiddenSpring, [2000]

Physical Description:
103 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 18 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
P95.45 .Z45 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Approaches the subject of conversation in a sophisticated, thought-provoking manner, explaining what kind of talk charmed and excited people in the past, why conversation is different today and what it could be like in the future.

Author Notes

Theodore Zeldin, a fellow and former dean of St Antony's College, Oxford is a member of the BBC Brains Trust, the British Academy and the European Academy

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Despite the lamentations of intellectual gadflies who long for the salons of yore, the art of conversation isn't deadDit's merely inert, waiting for enthusiasm to nudge it from slumber, according to Zeldin (An Intimate History of Humanity), former dean of St. Antony's College, Oxford, and member of the BBC Brains Trust. Aiming to spark a true dialogue (to the extent it can be achieved in print), he delves briefly into a history of conversation, citing courtesans who used wit for wooing and Bible passages that encourage inviting strangers in for dinner. From there, Zeldin champions using conversation to boost personal enrichment, political momentum and general stimulation. His accompanying 36 b&w illustrationsDRorschach-like squiggles of paint meant to represent concepts like "first impressions" or "family tradition"Ddo little to evoke their designated subjects, but provide an aesthetically pleasing counterpoint to his witty, erudite and persuasive invitation to social intercourse. But even within the confines of so short a work, Zeldin's charms wear thin as he harps on the same lovely and well-tuned note. Less an exploration of how we can talk with one another and more a long discourse on why we should, this slim volume will find many admirers as the perfect bread-and-butter gift. Agent, Andrew Nurnberg (U.K.). (Oct.) Forecast: As the lead title on Hidden Spring's first list, this elegant hardcover will benefit from the new house's launch efforts, including a six-copy counter display, online promotion, a targeted mailing to Oxford University alumni in the U.S. and a direct-mail campaign to book buyers. With a 20,000 first printing and a $30,000 ad/promo budget, an author tour and a 20-city morning drive radio satellite tour, conversation about this book will be in the air. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

The Picturesp. vii
1 How every new era changes the subject of conversationp. 1
2 Why the conversation of love is moving in a new directionp. 17
3 What saves family conversation from being boringp. 33
4 Conversation in the workplace: why specialists are having to find a new way of talkingp. 50
5 What technology can do to conversationp. 67
6 How conversation encourages the meeting of mindsp. 84
Thirty-six topics of conversationp. 100
Acknowledgmentsp. 104