The X Class

"Scrutinizing the British social classes over a century ago, Matthew Arnold identified the standard three and then observed that each class has in it people he termed aliens , those who feel they don't belong there and want out. It's largely from their current American counterparts that the X group is recruited. Some members, like Gore Vidal, enter from the upper class. Some, like James Jones, come from the proles, or even the destitute. One can have as little 'education' as Jones, or as much as the brilliant kids from the more demanding universities who have developed confidence in their intellect and taste there. X people constitute something like a classless class. They occupy the one social place in the U.S.A. where the ethic of buying and selling is not all-powerful. Impelled by insolence, intelligence, irony, and spirit, X people have escaped out the back doors of those theaters of class which enclose others. And people fearful that X-hood is somehow un-American should realize that, on the contrary, it is firmly in the American grain. Knowing that, Mark Twain created an exemplary category-X person and said when first ontroducing him, 'Huckleberry came and went, at his own free will.' "

-Paul Fussell, Class: A Guide Through the American Status System


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