Picture of a group of bright young people.
Thursday, March 8, 2012

Bright Young People

That’s a picture of a group of Bright Young People, the British equivalent, in a very rough sense, of the flappers of the US in the 1920s.

Readers or viewers of Brideshead Revisited, or of A Dance to the Music of Time, may remember that some characters, such as Anthony Blanche in Brideshead, were rather outlandish characters who seemed to be concerned with having a good time that consisted largely of going to parties, getting drunk, and behaving outrageously. Some of the characters, including Blanche, were based on real people.

1. D.J. Taylor has written a chronicle of the party goers of the 1920s. A few of them, Evelyn Waugh, Anthony Powell, Cecil Beaton, some, but not all, of the Mitfords survived and went on to better things. Others such as Brenda Dean Paul and Elizabeth Poynton succumbed to drugs and alcohol. Others, such as Brian Howard, wasted lives of promise, and produced little, and were more inconsequential than they should have been
 There are some interesting tidbits here, such as that Anthony Eden, whom I’ve always thought of as rather straight laced and buttoned up, made a pass at one of the Bright Young Men. Of course Eden was not yet either Foreign Secretary or Prime Minister.

While Taylor has included cartoons and clips from Punch and other magazines, he has included no photographs of any of the people, and the book would have benefitted immensely from some photos, particularly when he is at pains to give lengthy descriptions of some pictures.

I’m afraid that the book is rather long in relation to my interest to the people, and I would have preferred a series of biographical sketches rather than a constant rehash of the various parties.

Overall an interesting look at the time and place.

Next up I’ll be doing a classic book on the robber barons of the 19th century, and the odes of Pindar.