Professor Belli | Spring 2022 | City Tech | ENG 3402: Topics in Literature

reading response “Self-Help; with Illustrations of Conduct and Perseverance” (Samuel Smiles), 1859

When you look at the book cover as well as the title font, you would think that it’s a very old book, but 25 years isn’t that old, I’d say. “Selfishness” did not come to mind just from looking at the tittle of the book, as it mentioned in page 4 that some people who have judged it by its cover had. I’m not sure if my thoughts toward it were influenced by my expectations from the class or by the previous book that we read: The Secret, but I kinda had an idea that perhaps it is about ways to help oneself through certain behaviors and persistence. From the preface section, on page 4, it talks about the various times this books had been reprinted in the US and its different translations in different countries and how it attracts readers because of the many anecdotal illustrations of life and character. From this particular section, perhaps it was meant to catch our attention on what the value of the book. I mean, the book is about self-help with illustrations of conduct and perseverance. That seems to be a pretty interesting and  I believe we’ve all had heard or learned at least once in our lives about the significance of determination or perseverance. Also, I can personally testify that I have achieved certain personal goals in life through perseverance and heard great stories about people’s achievements through their activities and tenacity. However, one particular focus on chapter one was the character of the individuals.  “ The spirit of self-help is the root of all genuine growth of the individuals.”( page 8)

If something is great, such as an institution, a State, is because the individuals are great who made those. When one has that mentality to never give up, that person will certainly attain their goals. And the focus shouldn’t be on the results – as mentioned in the book – as much as it should on the conduct of persevering. I agree, if not with everything that I’ve read so far. When you are so dependent on others, you tend to make no effort to help yourself. I enjoyed reading all those beautiful stories and illustrations showing the outcomes of what the book claims of self-help and perseverance.


1 Comment

  1. Jill Belli

    The book was published in 1859 — so it is indeed quite old at this point 🙂

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