Samuel Smiles

A sequence based on excerpts from Samuel Smiles’ 1866 book, Self Help. Smiles’ guide recounts the hardships and perseverance of numerous male artists, writers and inventors, generally celebrating stories of sacrifice and poverty that men made for their craft. It’s also a book of infuriating conservatism, nationalism and misogyny, Smiles seemingly blind to the achievements of women and the cruel injustices of a class-based Victorian society. The Samuel Smiles sequence denies the original text its politics, replacing instances of ‘men’, ‘man’, ‘he’, ‘his’ ect. with ‘people’ or ‘the people’, and layering the text with increasing encounters of the words ‘happy’ or ‘happiness’, so poem One has one extra instance of ‘happy’ or ‘happiness’; poem Two has two extra instances, and so on, until any former sense of the text is absurdly obliterated.