Wickedly funny and bitingly satirical, The Art is a comedy of manners that gives insights into eighteenth-century behavior as well as the timeless art of emotional abuse. It is also an advice book, a handbook of anti-etiquette, and a comedy of manners. Collier describes methods for "teasing and mortifying" one's intimates and acquaintances in a variety of social situations. Written primarily for wives, mothers, and the mistresses of servants, it suggests the difficulties women experienced exerting their influence in private and public lifeand the ways they got round them. As such, The Art provides a fascinating glimpse into eighteenth-century daily life.
The first to employ modern spelling, this edition includes a lively introduction by editor Katharine A. Craik. Craik puts in context the various disputes described in The Art (domestic squabbles, quarrels between female friends, altercations between social classes) by describing the emergence in mid-eighteenth century of new notions of bourgeois femininity, along with new ideas of leisure and recreation. The result is a literary work sure to be enjoyed both by lovers of satire and those with an interest in the real daily dramas of the eighteenth-century world.