In the world of literature, you don’t have to throw a stone far to hit a snob. Snobbery takes many forms. It can form around social class, or material possessions, or workplace achievements. All types of snobbery are worth writing about (and mocking). Yet for me, it’s the intellectual snob that is most tedious of all.
As I say, they’re not hard to spot. At writer gatherings, in hip bookshops, at the local poetry slam, at book shows: these wretched creatures get everywhere, lurk in every slimy nook and cranny. Bend an ear to a conversation in the right place, and you’ll hear it: the snob in full flow. Listen to my words, little man. Bow deeply before my superiority. Watch as I roll my eyes at your elementary conversation, your malnourished knowledge.
It’s easy to get sucked in, I think. I used to be intimidated by snobs. My defence mechanism was to join in with the sneering. Now I see snobs for what they are: insecure souls with a yawning self-esteem deficit. The hobby of disparaging others is only for those unconvinced by their own standing. I’m not angered by snobs, though. I feel a little sorry for them.
I raise this subject because I used to be a snob. I was 20, and had just gained access to one of the UK’s better universities. I’d spend my only year there slouched in the student union, eating toasties and pontificating with fellow snobs about whichever Marxist I had read that week. I recall snidely mocking a student who couldn’t recall Hegel’s more renowned theories. Someone had forgotten about Gramsci? I’d pounce! In my mind, the thought crystallised that I was a fine example of a real intellect, and people were going to know about it.
I now realise the truth: I was a twit. I’m only slightly less of a twit now. But I hope I’ve moved on from my snob days.