Saturday, October 23, 2010

How the Mighty are Laid Low

"Her reputation as one of the country’s greatest female authors may rest on her elegant writing style.

But Jane Austen could not spell or correctly use punctuation, and wrote in a ‘regional accent’, according to a study of her handwritten work.

Professor Kathryn Sutherland, an Oxford University academic, said that manuscripts showed that her finished work was corrected by an editor.

Perhaps even more surprisingly for fans, that editor was believed to have been a man".

Oh my God! What tearing of hair and gnashing of teeth there will be in Wimin's Studies departments all over the world! The greatest female writer in English literary history couldn't even spell, and had to have her work corrected by a man! Imagine the shame! The rage! The angst! The cognitive dissonance ("We feminists never rated her that much anyway, our opponents just made that up to discredit us")!

Even before this latest revelation, she was hardly a female Shakespeare anyway. Even Fay Weldon apparently described her as "more Mills and Boon than War and Peace".

I'm not attacking Austen's work; it simply was what it was, and it was no doubt historically significant in some sense. I am poking fun at the ridiculous feminist canonisation of Austen as some kind of literary genius, when she was plainly no such thing. What fun to see that particular balloon popped! As Jane might have put it herself, "Recieved veiws are not always to be relied on".

This blow to the feminist intellectual establishment comes only a few years after we learned that the great gothic novel 'Frankenstein' was not in fact written by Mary Shelley at all, but by her husband, the great poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

In a review of 'The Man who wrote Frankenstein', Camille Paglia comments: "Lauritsen assembles an overwhelming case that Mary Shelley, as a badly educated teenager, could not possibly have written the soaring prose of "Frankenstein" (which has her husband's intensity of tone and headlong cadences all over it) and that the so-called manuscript in her hand is simply one example of the clerical work she did for many writers as a copyist...."

There are two interesting things to be said. Firstly, the idea that European women in the 18th and 19th centuries had no opportunity to produce art is utterly untrue. Upper class women in particular had almost nothing else to do. They did not lift a finger to support themselves. They had servants to look after their every need, with the costs being met either by the men of their family or by the labour of workers on their estates. They did not do a hand's turn in their entire lives. Instead, they were encouraged to cultivate 'accomplishments', and these were typically artistic. Playing musical instruments, painting and writing were their principal activities. Not only were women able to pursue the arts if they wished; they had every opportunity presented to them on a golden platter. Their environment could not have been more conducive to the pursuit of the arts.

The second thing to notice is that they produced practically nothing. Despite all of this leisure, privilege, time and encouragement, there is not one single female Mozart, Shakespeare, or Michelangelo. Not one. I'm not saying merely that it is not a 50-50 split. It is much worse than that. There is not even a single, solitary one.


Sunday, October 17, 2010


This old Vinnie Jones commercial is a good metaphor for the idea that men's traditional functions within the family are being, in effect, industrialised, taken over by a mixture of the government and corporate sectors.

So Much for Equality in the Party of the Working Man

Take a look at the diagram in this article. The entire Labour shadow cabinet seems to consist of current and former lovers, flat-mates or old university buddies. That level of nepotism is the sort of thing you might expect to find in the Albanian Communist Party circa 1970, but this is Her Majesty's Opposition, YOUR shadow cabinet.

I thought Labour was bad enough in the old days, when secret deals were done behind closed doors in smoke-filled rooms, between sallow Northern politicians in flat caps, and sallow Northern trade union leaders in flat caps. At least in those days it still maintained some pretence about representing working-class interests.

It seems that to get ahead in the Labour Party these days, you have to be a metropolitan Londoner, with a degree in PPE from OxBridge (that's Philosophy, Politics and Economics to you, you oik), and come from the well-to-do upper-middle-class. Preferably, you should be the offspring of wealthy East European emigres, or from a well-heeled family of Left-wing intellectuals. Failing that, you could be the niece of Lord Longford with a father who is a Harley Street doctor.

So much for 'the Party of the Working Man'. There is something galling about watching these champagne-soaked Hooray Henries and Henriettas on a mission to save the world. There is something infuriating about the way they deny the existence of objective moral knowledge, while at the same time wagging their fingers at us and lecturing us on appropriate behaviour, thoughts and speech. Something deeply maddening about the way they endlessly drone on about rights and freedom, while passing a mess of ill-thought-out, draconian laws designed to control every aspect of our lives. The way they denigrate the British nation, and yet expand the State to unprecedented levels. The way they squander our money hand over fist, and then laugh in our faces.

It makes an odd kind of sense to find out that they were all sleeping with each other at university, or living in each other's pockets. A very cosy, closed little clique, appointing each other to jobs, in the same way that paedophiles do. If that level of nepotism happened in a Surrey golf-club committee, or in a corporate board-room, these are the very people who would be up in arms about it.