". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cold Enough Yet? Reading Wednesday - Don't Tell Alfred

The temperature outside is falling so fast I can tell it is from inside, where we're cosy.  Cosy, yes, but there are those mean little airs that will float about and settle on the back one's neck (I reach for that sweet and light Aran wool scarf el V brought back the Shannon airport shop) one's fingers, one's ankles -- except I have on wool sox, stout boots and wool leg warmers.

For whatever reason, in their series "Comfort Reads" 
the Guardian is running another paeon to Nancy Mitford's Love in a Cold Climate(1949). Are Mitford's mad, bad Radletts and their various friends and relations a British holiday season tradition?

By coincidence, I finished re-reading N. Mitford's Don't Tell Alfred(1960) Monday night.  My dears, this one's not as up to it as the previous ones -- more nasty than monstrous. Perhaps because it is the 60's already, and the Cold War, and pop stars and so on?  Even Fanny now appears to be as complacently entrenched in class privilege as the worst of the Montdores, and not so amusing with it, particularly as her own children have followed so effortlessly in the presumption of rank superiority and their inherited comfortable place in the world-at-large, which do not include the necessity of working for a living.  Nevertheless, more riches fall into their laps, by luck, by marriage or by inheritance.  No wonder they love their lives so much. In this book they do it in the British embassy, in Paris.  The embassy becomes a crash pad for all Fanny's friends and relatives, and their friends and relatives, with servants and free meals, cocktails, transportation -- all at the British taxpayer's expense.

Fanny - Nancy's contempt for Americans is very much to the fore here.

It's odd, if all these old titled landowners's progeny still have independent fortunes and their parents are still running the country, is all that guff we've heard forever of the poor aristos after WWII losing their cavernous piles and their woodlands and fields and all the rest, just that, guff?  Put about for the sake of masquerading as poor propaganda and a ploy to gather sympathy for their poor, poor selves?

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