Sunday, August 23, 2009
The Mirror Breaks To Look In It
Said of Robert Byron's books (and character), by Paul Fussell in his book Abroad.
" . . . all nine . . . dramatize the action of the disciplined moral intelligence beleaguered by stupidity, convention, received error, greed, provincialism, nationalism, and aggression."
Byron seems to have come from what we Americans might see as an 'aristocratic' point of view, a man parodied by movies as 'English gentry': part eccentric, part wit, part fop, part university man, part remittance man, part fair-play umpire, part assumptive snoot, part decent sort. A type not without charm and interest, but a type hard for us to create now with a straight face.
Not being able to attest either to Byron's books or to Byron himself, one might like to assign such virtues to those of us living now, hoping that we might apply them in our own context.
That human ugliness against which Fussell claims Byron's opposition, though, might be pinned down in the matter of less than an hour, concretized from a look or two at websites or web headlines.
We're arboreal no more, but we're a bad crew. Always have been.