'Gossip': It's Salacious, Yes, But Never Trivial

Gossip is arguably one of humanity's oldest pastimes. It can be entertaining, it's occasionally helpful, it's often salacious and even, at times, vicious.

What it's not, argues Joseph Epstein, is trivial.

The author and essayist has already traced the history and practice of two other human weaknesses, snobbery and envy. In his new book, Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit, he turns his eye on our deep desire to hear — and share — the secrets of others, even if we feel guilty about doing so.

Epstein talks with NPR's Neal Conan about why we engage in gossip, what makes for a particularly juicy tidbit, and why he says the art of well-told gossip is being lost in our tell-all, celebrity-obsessed digital age.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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