The Science of Society - Vol. 1

The Science of Society - Vol. 1

The Science of Society - Vol. 1

The Science of Society - Vol. 1

Excerpt

The genesis of this book is recorded in the preface to Folkways as falling within the year 1899. It has been in the writing, therefore, for some twenty-seven years. Much has happened in the interval to delay its completion. From 1899 to about 1905 or 1906, Professor Sumner wrote along as steadily as his college duties and his condition of health and strength allowed. Never seeming to feel that he had enough material, he still continued to read a great deal; and his progress was retarded, also, by an increasing fatigue in composition. The work of six or seven years was represented by a lengthy draft of parts of this book, consisting of a great number of cases thrown into rough order and connected by a varying amount of comment and generalization. Fragments of this manuscript were nearly ready for the printer; other parts were no more than sketched; certain blocks of materials had not been attacked at all. At about this time he arrived at the topic of the "Mores," which he had located pretty far on in his plan, under a section called by him "The Mental Outfit" (at a point well along in Part IV of this book). He had been telling me that he was about two- thirds through his first draft.

For some time thereafter he spoke of being occupied with "the section on the mores," and finally told me one day that this topic had run away with him. "I have a chapter," said he, "of two hundred thousand words. That's too long for a chapter; I think I'll make a book of it." This is what he did, for he set aside his original project and devoted all his efforts to the volume called Folkways, which was published in June, 1907. "My next task," he wrote, in the preface to that book, "is to finish the sociology." But he was now much wearied by the writing of Folkways and did not have the energy to return at once to his original undertaking. Then, early in 1908, he suffered an irreparable misfortune in losing for some months all use of his right hand. He was never able to write with any comfort or speed thereafter, though, true to his indomitable purpose, he trained his left hand to substitute after a fashion until his right regained enough strength in some measure to resume duty.

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