Grovelling and Other Vices: The Sociology of Sycophancy

Grovelling and Other Vices: The Sociology of Sycophancy

Christie Davies

By Alphons Silbermann. Translated by Ladislaus Lob. London: Athlone Press, 2000. 184 pp. 45.00 [pounds sterling]. ISBN 0-485-11544-1

Alphons Silbermann’s book was originally published in German as Von der Kunst der Arschkriecherei and indeed was originally advertised as On the Art of Arse-Licking. Why the publishers departed from the original title, which is intimately closer to the German original, is not clear, for the term that has been banished from the title is used throughout the text, as when the author writes: “The hinterland of arse-licking as a purposive ideology is provided by aspects of moral reality founded on practical reason.” Perhaps the book would have been better left in German, a language better equipped for obscurity than English. The illustrations are the best part of the book.

The author is described as a sociologist and it is very much a sociologist’s book, for it says nothing but with an impressive array of allusions to other authors. Unfortunately, the author is a cultured man with some knowledge of history, so it is a bit unfair for the publishers to call him a sociologist.

Christie Davies, Faculty of Letters, University of Reading, UK

COPYRIGHT 2002 Folklore Society

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