Friday, October 3, 2008

The Importance of Being Eton

Hitchens has a new piece on Eton.

The Eton Empire: Entertainment & Culture:
The Etonian system is not designed to turn out a uniform product, in other words. “It also has one great virtue,” wrote the austere egalitarian George Orwell in 1948, “and that is a tolerant and civilized atmosphere which gives each boy a chance of developing a fair individuality.” Boys have their own rooms rather than sharing. Thus, though John le CarrĂ©—who taught there under his real name, David Cornwell—claims to be able to detect an Etonian in a crowded room 80 percent of the time, he told my Etonian friend Nick Fraser (author of The Importance of Being Eton) that the salient characteristic of his pupils was “cool impertinence.… The boys were adult, funny, a little removed from life even as they evolved effortlessly into the shrewdest operators. They were at once innocent and worldly.” This cultivated affect dovetails perfectly with the Niven-ish image of the deceptively polite and modest Englishman, outwardly unflappable and possessed of steely inward ruthlessness.

So, like... I attended the anti-eaton and turned out as you'd expect. Oh, well.

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