Noblesse Oblige: An Enquiry Into the Identifiable Characteristics of the English Aristocracy

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Alan Strode Campbell Ross, Nancy Mitford
Oxford University Press, 1956 - Aristocracy (Social class) - 106 pages
9 Reviews
The Great U and Non-U Debate Until Nancy Mitford wrote 'The English Aristocracy' in 1955, England was blissfully unconscious of U-Usage and its lethal implications. The phenomenon of 'Upper-Class English Usage' had, it is true, already been remarked upon by Professor Alan Ross who, in an academic paper printed in Helsinki a year earlier, claimed that the upper classes now distinguished solely by their use of language, but it was the Honourable Mrs. Peter Rodd (as she was addressed by U-speaker Evelyn Waugh, Esq.) who first let the cat out of the bag. Her article sparked off a public debate joined vigorously by Evelyn Waugh, 'Strix', and Christopher Sykes, whose counterblasts are collected here. Osbert Lancaster, caricaturist of English manners, takes the debate into the visual dimension, and John Betjeman poeticizes on the theme with characteristic charm: Phone for the fish-knives Norman As Cook is a little unnerved; You kiddies have crumpled the serviettes And I musthave things daintily served. A new introduction by Ned Sherrin reveals more of the articles and correspondences that were generated by the debate, in his inimitably entertaining fashion.

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Review: Noblesse Oblige: The Inimitable Investigation into the Idiosyncracies of English Idiom

User Review  - Nicola Bailey - Goodreads

Fascinating essays Read full review

Review: Noblesse Oblige: The Inimitable Investigation into the Idiosyncracies of English Idiom

User Review  - Bhan13 - Goodreads

It's pretty funny that some American readers think this series of articles was satirical (besides John Betjeman's poem, of course). It was an amusing close examination of a social custom, and a look at the contributors will let you know the level of the writing. Read full review

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About the author (1956)

Nancy Mitford (1904-73), born in London, was the daughter of the 2nd Baron Redesdale. She became well known for her novels The Pursuit of Love (1945), Love in a Cold Climate (1949), The Blessing (1951), and Don't Tell Alfred (1960). After World War II she moved to France and wrote biographies of Madame de Pompadour, Voltaire, Louis XVI, and Frederick the Great. As one of the essayists in and the editor of Noblesse Oblige (first published 1956) she helped to establish the 'U' (upper-class)and 'non-U' classification of linguistic usage and behaviour.

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