When consumerism was celebrated

In: Uncategorized

14 Aug 2006

Nowadays it is easy for those in the developed world to forget how positively the acquisition of consumer goods was once viewed. It sounds like Consuming Passions: Leisure and Pleasure in Victorian Britain (Harper Press), a new book by Judith Flanders, helps to explain why. According to a review in the Observer:

“In the 17th century it was not unusual for a poor, rural household to own no more than two or three pots, a knife apiece and a cup between them. By 1715, 90 per cent of families had a clock, and by the end of the 19th century comparable households lived in cottages filled with ‘Victorian clutter’. By 1910, there was one piano for every 10 to 20 people.”

Evidently Emile Zola, a leading nineteenth century French author, also celebrated capitalism, commerce and consumerism in The Ladies’ Paradise (Au bonheur des dames, 1883).