A new preface for Les Back’s The Art of Listening


Les Back has written a new preface for the Japanese edition of his book The Art of Listening. The preface has been published in full on the Sociological Imagination site. In this new preface Les reflects on the reception and writing of the book, he also talks of the anxiety of publishing the book. The preface us really revealing about the writing process and gives some backstage insights into the experience of authorship. Anyone interested in writing will find it to be of interest.

I bought this book when it was first published. I was working on sound at the time and I took the title a bit literally. I was expecting it to be an extension of Les and Michael Bull’s edited book The Auditory Culture Reader, I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was a book about the practice of sociology. I remember finding the conclusion to be particularly inspiring. In that chapter Les discusses the way that our ability to listen has been diminished and begins to develop the concept of live sociology (which has since been further developed). So I would fall into the category of early career sociologists who were influenced by the book, as described by Les in his new preface.

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