The Thousand Faces of “Me”

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In 1976 New York published a lengthy essay, “The ‘Me’ Decade and the Third Great Awakening,” by the reporter and novelist Tom Wolfe, who died last year, aged 88. Wolfe argued that mass prosperity in the postwar era had erased the historical American proletariat and replaced it with a lower-middle class whose members, exaggeratedly aware of their status as individuals, formed a national culture centered on the quest for self-development and self-perfection.

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