Why this Blog?

A place where I can lament the changing times; for eccentric comments on current affairs and for unfashionable views, expressed I hope, in cogent style; also occasional cris de coeur largely concerned, I regret to say, with myself.


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Friday 26 October 2012

Characters in Books

The title above may in future be modified to read "Characters in Books I" thereby denoting the existence of a series.  However I do not wish to claim any degree of prescience in this regard since there is always the possibility of boredom - in the worst case self boredom which is indeed, the very worst kind; the writer knows...

These days I spend probably 80 - 90% of my waking hours reading; the escape is very necessary and indeed makes existence bearable.  I make no claims as to any talent for literary criticism, so if my points are lightweight, well you know the reasons; and after all didn't someone once say that "A critic is someone with no ideas of his own and the ability to express them?"

Very well, with that out of the way I'll turn to my first character.  This fellow may be found in several of the novels in Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time series.  We meet him first at school (modeled on Eton) where we are perhaps struck by a kind of languid elegance (typical in fact of the Etonian manner in this writer's experience) and a ready and elegant though rather ruthless wit.  

As the years pass he becomes a selfish drunk (though nearly always witty) - a bit of a "victim" perhaps, and finally a "dry" casualty.  When in sympathetic mood, I feel a sense of waste and indeed pity, but the character strains my sympathies a little too much; he IS selfish undoubtedly. I have had experience of living in close association with hopeless drunks (not here in England in case anyone is wondering) and believe me there is nothing more boring than a drunk.

The character's name is Charles Stringham and he was the favourite in the Dance series of my ex-girlfriend ("ex" that is in her eyes). Ironic when I reflect on it that she should select a selfish drunk; must be the wit wot done it.

I think I'll order up a bottle of Champagne.

Until the next time.


Anonymous said...

our experience of the Eton educated obviously differ somewhat.I can`t abide the born to rule attitude. I have little respect for their privilege. The Government and its cohorts are my current evidence.

Only in Wodehouse and Powell are the elite "languid" Oh and Jeffrey Archer.

thank you for being there. Every little helps....

pip pip `O.

Paul said...

I didn't refer to a "born-to-rule" attitude, just a sort of elegant languor - admittedly showing a sort of interior confidence - which I have always liked and wish I possessed. I promise you it does exist, though I have not noticed it on the Treasury bench, at least not since Harold Macmillan (remember that famous incident at the U.N. with Krushchev?) The present lot are distinctly lacking in the sort of class I should like to see there and, sadly will never see there; that time has gone forever. Many would be happy at the thought. I'm not.

It is also worth looking at history, where suspicion of "born-to-rule" attitudes has led to tragic results. On first reading your comment I thought immediately of that criminal monster, Stalin and his band of thugs; Katyn was the result of their dislike of what they considered to be an "elite." One might also remember Pol Pot, another mass-murderer who believed that there should be just one "elite": his shower.

Wodehouse is excellent, though of course utter fantasy; certainly there are one or two good examples in Powell - I especially am attracted to Dicky Umfraville.

Jeffrey Archer's oeuvres do not feature in my tiny library, and are not likely to do so!