Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Edwardian echoes

If we keep our ears to the ground, we can hear echoes, though faint, of some of the attitudes from Edwardian and Georgian times in contemporary English culture.

Here are two examples.

The perennial and deep-rooted English attitude that all the world's troubles are ultimately the result of French perfidity or decadence is evident in Marxist literary critic Terry Eagleton's new book Holy Terror. The left-wing (formerly Manchester) Guardian describes Eagleton as "the High Priest of Lit Crit .... a Catholic-turned-Marxist from a working-class background." Nonetheless, Eagleton's thesis in Holy Terror is that "Terrorism itself may be a new concept – it arose with modernity in the French revolution."

And in general, the English perennially fret about decadence. Theodore Dalrymple merely continues a type. And it's in the water there. Madonna - yes, that Madonna - has now married an Englishman and is evolving herself into a model of English country life propriety: literally, modelling herself on the cover of Ladies Home Journal.
The English press have re-christened her with the very English name "Madge." And in due course she has delivered a screed against .... decadence: "Madonna warns how people 'are going to go to hell, if they don't turn from their wicked behavior;" protests that "most priests are gay;" and, waxing eschatological, declares that "'The Beast' is the modern world that we live in."

And it is like way that the English class system, so strong a concern in our course texts, will persist despite official policy designed to eradicate it.

No comments: