A bestseller immediately after its publication in 1859, Self-Help propelled its author to fame and rapidly became one of Victorian Britain's most important statements on the allied virtues of hard work, thrift, and perseverance. Interpreted by some as a paean to personal avarice, Smiles's most celebrated book is in fact a practical and engaging tribute to the working- and lower-middle classes, in whom he identified the capacity for self-improvement and for whom he tirelessly advocated the right of social advancement. Part practical guide, part proverbial testament, part secular hagiography, this literary hybrid turns biography into an inspirational medium that awakens the reader to their own potential and instills the desire to succeed. Smiles's book is the precursor of today's motivational and self-help literature, although its vision is significantly more cosmopolitan than that of most books in an ever-expanding genre.
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