Thursday, March 31, 2005

Spoil 1.24

Boredom: the final frontier of the snob

The boredom was partly a generational thing. Evelyn Waugh, b. 1903; Graham Greene, b. 1904; Cyril Connolly, b. 1903; Ian Fleming, b. 1908. These Englishmen came from a similar class background, and had writing careers which, from the outside at least, seemed characterised by brilliant success. They also had parallel lives as spies, soldiers, shaggers and men of action (or in Connolly's case, of inaction so spectacular that it, too, seems like a form of action). But all of them suffered from a desperate, crippling, lifelong fear of boredom. Greene's boredom was perhaps the best publicised, what with the Russian roulette and all that. In a sense, it was boredom that led him to Catholicism, since religion offered him the opportunity to regard every moment as a soul-imperilling drama, and therefore added a pleasant tang of chilli-heat to the things he was doing to keep the boredom at bay - brothel-visiting, opium, spying, having adulterous sex on church altars etc. Waugh feared boredom so much he used to have nightmares about it; Connolly based his whole adult personality on the idea of his battle with ennui. In many respects a childish man, he did at least face the truth that the main thing he was bored with was himself. Fleming, too, was chronically, cripplingly bored.
John Lanchester in London Review of Books

Beat this:
"...the opening line of [Fleming's] first book, Casino Royale: 'The scent and smoke of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning.'"
It's tough out there.


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