THE CRAFTSMAN

RICHARD SENNETT

Published by ALLEN LANE
ISBN 10: 0713998733 / ISBN 13: 9780713998733
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Synopsis: Provocative and enlightening, Richard Sennett's The Craftsman is an exploration of craftsmanship - the desire to do a job well for its own sake - as a template for living. Most of us have to work. But is work just a means to an end? In trying to make a living, have we lost touch with the idea of making things well? Pure competition, Sennett shows, will never produce good work. Instead, the values of the craftsman, whether in a Stradivari violin workshop or a modern laboratory, can enrich our lives and change the way we anchor ourselves in the world around us. The past lives of crafts and craftsmen show us ways of working - using tools, acquiring skills, thinking about materials - which provide rewarding alternative ways for people to utilise their talents. We need to recognize this if motivations are to be understood and lives made as fulfilling as possible. 'Lively, engaging and pertinent ... a lifetime's learning has gone into the writing of this book' Roger Scruton, Sunday Times 'An enchanting writer with important things to say' Fiona MacCarthy, Guardian 'Enthralling ... Sennett is keen to reconnect thinking with making, to revive the simple pleasure in the everyday object and the useful task. There is something here for all of us' Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times 'A masterpiece' Boyd Tonkin, Independent Richard Sennett's previous books include The Fall of Public Man, The Corrosion of Character, Flesh and Stone and Respect. He was founder director of the New York Institute for the Humanities, and is now University Professor at New York University and Academic Governor and Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics.

From the Author:

A conversation with Richard Sennett

 

Q:  What do you mean by craftsmanship?

A:  Craftsmanship names both the desire for quality and the skill to deliver it. A nurse or a computer programmer can think about his or her skill as a craft to which he or she is committed, just like a potter. In my book I try to show in particular what the traditional realm of artisans, making things by hand, reveals about craftsmanship in this larger sense of doing something well for its own sake.”

 

Q:  Why does craftsmanship matter today?
A:  Most individuals, businesses, and organizations would claim they are driven by the desire to do good quality-work, but you’d be right to be suspicious about this claim. In the book I show how and why many modern institutions produce mediocre work; I show how the education system can provide students only superficial skills and little sense of commitment. Craftsmanship” names more a desire than a reality we know how to put into practice.

 

Q: How does craft relate to art?

A: There is no art without craft, no expression without technique. So, in my book, I focus on the musician practicing scales, the architect working with problems at a building site, the writer cutting excess words from a paragraph. I do not discuss inspiration.

 

Q: The Craftsman is the first book in a trilogy; how do you think about the series?
A: I want to make sense of material things and material culture in a different way than the Marxist writers of the 20th century did. They concentrated on power relations. I want to broaden cultural materialism to include the sensations and puzzles aroused by material things themselves; the ways in which abstract thinking and belief develop through practice and practical activity; the forms of social behavior which emerge from shared physical experience. The trilogy explores the crafting of objects, ritual and religion, and society’s relation to natural resources. I am by conviction a pragmatist and these books are my contribution to the pragmatist tradition in America.

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Bibliographic Details

Title: THE CRAFTSMAN
Publisher: ALLEN LANE
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: VERY GOOD

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