December 25, 2013

Your Christmas Garland

Beerbohm, genius, blah blah, Christmas book, blah blah, undiscovered treasure etc.  Here is Beerbohm doing Shaw, doing Christmas:
Nothing could have been easier for me (if I were some one else) than to perform my task in that God-rest-you-merry-gentlemen-may-nothing-you-dismay spirit which so grossly flatters the sensibilities of the average citizen by its assumption that he is sharp enough to be dismayed by what stares him in the face. Charles Dickens had lucid intervals in which he was vaguely conscious of the abuses around him; but his spasmodic efforts to expose these brought him into contact with realities so agonising to his highstrung literary nerves that he invariably sank back into debauches of unsocial optimism. Even the Swan of Avon had his glimpses of the havoc of displacement wrought by Elizabethan romanticism in the social machine which had been working with tolerable smoothness under the prosaic guidance of Henry 8. The time was out of joint; and the Swan, recognising that he was the last person to ever set it right, consoled himself by offering the world a soothing doctrine of despair. Not for me, thank you, that Swansdown pillow. I refuse as flatly to fuddle myself in the shop of "W. Shakespeare, Druggist," as to stimulate myself with the juicy joints of "C. Dickens, Family Butcher." Of these and suchlike pernicious establishments my patronage consists in weaving round the shop-door a barbed-wire entanglement of dialectic and then training my moral machine-guns on the customers.

Read the whole damn lot of it, every single perfect word, here.

Past garlands:
2005 - Kipling, Chesterton
2006 - Henry James
2010 - John Galsworthy
2011 - Frank Norris
2012 - George Moore


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