Beth Blum

Oct 26, 2022

On Samuel Smiles' "Self-Help"

A Discussion with Beth Blum

New Books Network 2022

Samuel Smiles’ Self-Help isn’t just an advice manual. It represents the invention of a genre, and not a moment too soon. Smiles was writing at a time when work conditions were extremely poor, and people were looking for ways to educate themselves and improve their conditions. Although Smiles may have written Self-Help with one particular society’s troubles in mind, his advice swiftly travelled around the globe to places like Japan and Egypt. Beth Blum is an assistant professor of English at Harvard University. She specializes in modernist and contemporary literature. She is the author of The Self-Help Compulsion: Searching for Advice in Modern Literature. See more information on our website,

Listen to more episodes on: