Tuesday, June 05, 2007

From behind 2.29

The oddly chosen battleground of Nancy's generation was that of the Athletes versus the Aesthetes - sometimes called the Hearties and the Arties - and the newspapers were full of accounts of pitched warfare staged at Oxford University between these opposing forces.
The Athletes, of course, were direct ideological descendants of past patriots, winners of wars on the playing fields of Eton, Old School Tie men and their horsey-set women.
The Aesthetes laid claim to a more exotic heritage...the Romantics, the England of Oscar Wilde, the France of Baudelaire and Verlaine. Most of the Aesthetes were vaguely pro-Socialist, pro-pacifist, and (horrors!) opposed to shooting, hunting and fishing on the grounds that these hallowed blood sports were cruel and sadistic. They gaily toppled the old, uncomplicated household gods - England, Home and Glory, the Divine Right of Kings (and hence the House of Lords), the axiomatic superiority of the English over all other races...
J. Mitford, Hons and Rebels, p.33


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