Waiting for the Weekend

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"We work," Aristotle wrote, "in order to have leisure." Today, this is still true: "Thank God it's Friday - I'm out of here!" we exclaim. But is the leisure that Aristotle spoke of - the freedom to do nothing - the same leisure we look forward to each weekend?

In Waiting for the Weekend, Witold Rybczynski unfolds the history of leisure. There have always been breaks from the routine of work: taboo days, market days, public festivals, holy days - we couldn't survive without them. He explores the origins of the week and the observance of the Sabbath, and shows how, beginning with the industrial revolution, when workers began staying home on Mondays, the practice of "keeping Saint Monday" evolved into the familiar institution of the weekend.

"At first, the five-day week was common in only three industries: the needle trade, building construction (where well-organized unions had been aggressive in seeking shorter hours), and to a lesser degree printing and publishing, where the change from the half-Saturday to the full-Saturday holiday was slow in coming."

(P)1992 by Blackstone AudioBooks; ©1991 by Witold Rybczynski

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