Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Letters of Jonathan Oldstyle (01).

Washington Irving
New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc.
1802-1803 (1983)

Why read it? The years are 1802 and 1803 in America. The commentator is Jonathan Oldstyle, an older man, a conservative, someone who does not like innovation on old habits.

He sends letters to the editor, commenting on the fashions of the young, on the foppishness of young men, on the habits of playgoers, most of which modern readers will recognize in the movieplexes of today--except for cell phones, of course--and on the contemporary methods of dueling when pistols replaced swords, and other modes of dueling are not quite like what Abraham Lincoln used, cow flop, but are also designed to assure that no one is seriously hurt. It's all in good fun.

But since your reviewer is an old man--74 years old--he is sympathetic to the older point of view toward contemporary society and its youth and the manners of those who engage in social functions. If I were still teaching, I would set my young scholars to imitating the style of Mr. Oldstyle in studying today's fashions, youth and social gatherings.

No comments: