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Fame [Hardcover]

Tom Payne
1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.00
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Book Description

6 Aug 2009

WHAT DOES BIG BROTHER TELL US ABOUT ATHENIAN DEMOCRACY?

WHAT DOES THE FATE OF ACHILLES SAY ABOUT THE DEATH OF AYRTON SENNA?

DO POP STARS SELL THEIR SOULS TO THE DEVIL?

WHY DOES ANYONE WANT TO BE FAMOUS?

AND WHY DO WE WANT THEM TO BE?

We're told that we're celebrity-obsessed. But are we? When we elevate mere mortals to the status of gods, is this a new disease, or a more ancient instinct?

Throughout history we have defined ourselves with reference to famous people and allowed them to exercise a strange power over us. But we have power over them too. Whether they are renowned for their intelligence, beauty, valour, athletic prowess or artistic genius, or even nothing in particular, they have always been at our mercy: We can give them glory and take it away.

Has fame changed? And is our fascination with it really such a bad thing? Tom Payne expertly surveys deities and divas through the ages to answer these puzzling questions and many more.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (6 Aug 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 009951639X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099516392
  • Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 926,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Payne draws easily on the classical world and its myths and rituals to illuminate the celebrity deifications of our modern era...It's like reading Grazia, but feels as worthy as memorising Homer. And for those those who are befuddled, bemused or outraged by our celebrity culture, this is a useful primer... brisk and amusing - Daily Telegraph

Payne explains these and other ideas with tremendous gusto, humour, and many flashes of self-knowing irony…there is also something strangely satisfying in seeing the theories of learned classists used to explain the fate of rock stars and other assorted pin-ups of popular culture…Fame is a good read. - The Observer, Mary Beard

Payne’s wonderfully witty and erudite study of modern fame - Sunday Times, Christopher Hart

eccentric and erudite - Metro, Claire Allfree

Review

FAME is set to do for classics what Harry Mount's much-lauded 'Amo, Amas, Amat ... and All That' achieved for Latin in 2006 - the updating of a fusty subject for a modern audience

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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rambling... 20 Sep 2009
Format:Hardcover
I can only second the other reviewer's impatience with this book.

Across 278 pages, classicist Tom Payne litters examples of celebrities and rather tenuously links them with the events and traditions from the Bronze Age and classical literature. Frustratingly a coherent argument isn't developed (as far as I can see) and the reader is often left adrift by sudden changes of direction and emphasis. Take for example this: Having related how Mitch Winehouse believed that a boycott of his daughter's music would "send a message" to Amy, Payne's switches his commentary to Roman times without a clear logical bridge: "It's not such an original idea. In Rome, when an emperor died, he either became a god or else was given the memory punishment, the damnatio memoriae...". There follow tasteless comparisons of the execution of Saddam Hussein with the eviction of Jackiey Budden from Celebrity Big Brother as well as some quite embarrassing attempts to get down amongst the kids (e.g. when imitating American hip-hop speech or when he suggests that another word for aubergine - eggplant - isn't really English because the Americans and Australasians use it).

Payne is - as the British media once was - fond of quoting Jade Goody. But it is ultimately Goody who proves to be the clearer commentator on the second reality that the entertainment press and wider media create in these celebrity-saturated times:

"Orlando Bloom was sitting there in a black jumper...he smiled at me...I found myself stood in the queue with Kate Moss. She started chatting to me, asking how my boys were and stuff. I couldn't believe it - it was like I was in a parallel universe."
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Definitely not a fun read 7 Sep 2009
By Wakelin
Format:Hardcover
Ok if you're a Classics scholar - otherwise it's very hard going. I gave up after page 10.Fame
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