necromommycon: (Chase eager)
[personal profile] necromommycon
I'd been intending to share the joys of "Five Are Together Again" today, but PD, in what I can only assume is an effort to put me off men altogether and particularly off former public-school boys, has lent me David Blaize.

I don't know quite how to describe it. Best let it speak for itself, I think.

p. 57:
Bags sat down on the grass by him.
"I feel perfectly beastly," he said. "You're always horrid to me, and--and I like you so awfully...."

There was something heroic about this, for, though Bags could not play cricket, he wanted to watch it, and in especial to watch David. For when he was nice, he was, in Bags' unspoken phrase, "such an awfully fetching chap." He had all that one boy admires in another: he was quick and ready of laughter, he was in the eleven, which was an attraction, he was very good-looking, which was another, and in point of fact, at that portentous moment when it was made matter of common knowledge that Blaize's Christian name was David, Bags would have rather liked it if someone had proclaimed that his own name was Jonathan. But, as it was only George, it might as well remain a secret.

p. 146:
But Maddox still held it, looking at him.
"Oh, it doesn't matter," he said. "Just having a bath, were you?"
David paused. There was Maddox only looking at him, only smiling. But instantly he had some sense of choking discomfort. He looked back at him, frowning and puzzled, and his sense of discomfort hugely increased. He merely wanted to get away.
"Oh then, I think I'll go and dress," he said hurriedly, and, picking up his sponge, left the room and ran away down the dark passage to his dormitory.

All these weeks that intense friendship which was springing up between himself and David had been splendidly growing, and til now his influence had been exerted entirely for David's good. He had constantly shielded him, as on the night when he had found Hughes sitting on his bed, from all that could sully him, he had checked any hint of foul talk in David's presence, for, of all his lovable qualities, there was none so nobly potent to the elder boy than David's white innocence, his utter want of curiosity about all that was filthy. It didn't exist for him, but the danger of it (though, thank God, it had passed) he knew that he himself had brought near to him...Then he got up and looked at himself in the mirror above his mantelpiece, hating himself.
"You damned beast," he said. "You deserve to be shot."

"So I see. I'm not going to jaw you as well as lick you, but cribbing's an utterly rotten game, and I always whack anybody whom I find doing it. So get over that chair. I shall give you six."
"Gosh," said David quietly, presenting himself.
Maddox gave him four, and not in fun; it was not meant to be fun, and David felt the cold sweat stand out on his forehead. He could just prevent himself from crying out, but there was not much to spare, and he felt doubtful if he could stand two more. But Maddox, at the same moment, felt that he certainly couldn't, and he threw the racquet-handle into the corner.
"That's enough," he said.
David straightened himself up and turned round, wiping the sweat from a very white face.
"You--you can whack," he said. "I say, I feel rather bad. May I--"
There was a sudden singing in his ears, and Maddox caught him as he reeled, and put him gently down into a chair, as he leaned on him. But David's faintness was only momentary, and, recovering almost instantly, he saw that Maddox was looking almost as queer as he himself felt.

...yeahhhhhh. Quite.

Well, that does explain much about public-school inmates, such as why most women wouldn't touch one with a barge pole.

The whole thing has this sickly-sweet treacle-y feel to it, so that it manages to be both hilarious but also embarrassing to read, and it leaves me with a very slight urge to go beat up some nice boy in a uniform. Remind me never again to joke about the sillinesses to which girls are prone, or to listen in silence to anyone else joking about it. Because quite honestly, even at our very worst and silliest--which peaked, I think, at roughly nineteen for my immediate friends--we were never even a fraction as idiotic as this. No female I've ever met, even if caught at her worst and swooniest, ever approached it. Even a whole group of us nearly fainting away when our Favourite Undergraduate Professor said my name couldn't compare with that David-and-Jonathan line, ugh.

Also, there's something weirdly and killingly Freudian about the author's choice of words, so that fifteen-year-old David's discomfort "hugely increas[ing]" before he ran away "down the dark passage" had me in tears of LOL.

Date: 2008-09-18 05:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
But David and Jonathan are the OTPest thing in whole Bible!

Heh, okay, you'll like this: (the bit that made me think of it is in the middleish)

Date: 2008-09-18 05:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I also found my new favourite book in the world, The Hero of Crampton School by G. Forsyth Grant. It's sort of like What Katy Did, with far more cricket and athletic young schoolboys.

Yes!! So is this!!!

Date: 2008-09-18 05:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
... Is that really meant to be completely filthy or is it just me?

Date: 2008-09-18 08:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's not just you. Or, I don't know, if it's just you, it's just me too!

Date: 2008-09-18 05:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Deeply and altogether Freudian, yes, the lot of it.

I don't think either gender, in my experience, is quite this silly. That said, what do I know?

Still... this definitely makes even the soppiest and most ridiculous yaoi fics seem eerily plausible. ;-)

Date: 2008-09-18 08:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It actually got much MORE Freudian as I read on, and I'm going to be unable to resist posting more of it tomorrow. Really, I could respect these characters more if they actually had sex; it would be much easier to read that than this horrible, over-the-top sentimental slop.

Date: 2008-09-18 04:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The thought of it becoming more Freudian is v. disturbing.

Really, I could respect these characters more if they actually had sex; it would be much easier to read that than this horrible, over-the-top sentimental slop.

Well, that's why folk write fanfic Almost anything would be easier to read, judging by these samples.

Date: 2008-09-18 06:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
If this is one of the famous Bensons - they were five children of an Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, all of whom are suspect or more than suspect of being homosexual. The most talented of them became a Catholic priest and wrote excellent but grim Catholic apologetics and novels. They are also the best evidence of a gay gene there has ever been, because their own mother, after her husband was dead, set up the most famous lesbian household in her time with another high-ranking Anglican lady. All this, mind you, in the days of Sherlock Holmes - about 1880-1920. You might like a look at the satirical "Lucia" novels of another Benson, who still has supporters to this day.

If you want a very negative account of public schools in a similar period, read CS Lewis' autobiography, Surprised by Joy.

Date: 2008-09-18 08:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have no idea whether this is one of those Bensons, but if it is, then I can well see how he would have been thought gay; it is increasingly impossible, as I approach the end of the novel, to read it as written by anyone very straight.

Ah! I have read one of the Lucia novels, because someone said Mina reminded her of Lucia.

Date: 2008-09-18 09:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Good Lord - he is the same person!

He also wrote an excellent (and savage) analysis of the behaviour of Germany and Turkey in World War One, obviously from an Allied viewpoint. It is available from Project Gutenberg and I have it.

Date: 2008-09-18 09:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, heavens--I had somehow assumed the Lucia books had to be written by a women, because of the tone.

Well. *boggles slightly* That does explain much, really.

Date: 2008-09-18 09:17 am (UTC)
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] tree_and_leaf
Insert comment along the lines of 'subtext rapidly becoming text' here, possibly in an urgent, uncomfortable, choking way...

...yeah. I shall stick to CM Yonge instead.

Date: 2008-09-18 09:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes. The subtext just sort of...bursts out at one.

In a squirmingly uncomfortable way. I've read graphic sex scenes that weren't one-hundredth as embarrassing.

Date: 2008-09-18 04:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What the hell did I just read?

Date: 2008-09-18 10:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Just wait. I'm giving you more of it--less graphic, but more Freudian-slippy--today.

Date: 2008-09-18 07:04 pm (UTC)
ext_22136: Slytherin House badge with Prowling the Net as caption (Default)
From: [identity profile]
Oh. Dear. God. I have read EXPLICIT SLASH with less homosexual overlay than this.

I cannot stop giggling. I really can't.

One of my partners is a male bisexual - he is also the only one privately educated. I have always felt this is not a coincidence, and now I feel it's been confirmed. ;)

Date: 2008-09-18 10:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes, I know: I'm biting my tongue in half trying to keep my public-school comments to a minimum here. Oh LOL.

Date: 2008-09-19 08:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
As a matter of fact, public schools today are nothing like their Victorian forebears - I have been to one, and I saw the changes taking place. You have to understand that the Vitcorian schools that produced Benson and his contemporaries were meant as training camps for the class that was to go out and rule one-fourth of the known world - as judges, officers, bureaucrats, police captains, etc etc. As such, they insisted on character above intellect - to be a fair and effective Boss, a sense of morality and the will to impose it count ten times more than a high intelligence - which is where you get all that sense of mutual compulsion and punishment given and accepted. Today's public schools - the name has gone out of use, by the way; they are now independent schools - are still the training camps of a privileged class, but it is much more international than it was then, and it includes girls - I think almost every independent school is coed. The idea of the stern but just Victorian gentleman has been replaced by that of the international educated person - something like a Barack Obama with an English instead of American accent. And incidentally, corporal punishment is outlawed, much to the disgust of the law and order crowd.

Date: 2008-09-18 07:27 pm (UTC)
snorkackcatcher: (Default)
From: [personal profile] snorkackcatcher
You know, old public school novels were pretty much standard fare when I was a boy. I'm sure if I'd read this then I wouldn't have thought anything of it. (Mind you, since I'd probably have been preteen then that's probably a good thing.)

Can I assume that this never moves beyond subtext -- or at any rate, innuendo -- to actual text? I suppose he might well have arranged it so that fellow ex-public schoolboys would understand what was written between the lines, but I'd be surprised if it were stated outright.

Date: 2008-09-18 10:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
There's that scene where one of them scopes out the other in the baths, and then later there's a third boy who gets expelled (mind you, if you didn't already know from subtext why he got expelled, you'd never figure it out, because they never do say anything directly), and then there's a lot of blither about how their love and friendship are pure and haven't been spoiled by that one after the bath temptation...

Date: 2008-09-18 10:47 pm (UTC)
snorkackcatcher: (Default)
From: [personal profile] snorkackcatcher
Ah. Well, I can't see any possible subtext in that. Not in the slightest. No subtexr. None at all.

Date: 2008-09-18 10:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Quite. Me neither, old chap, me neither.

Date: 2008-09-19 06:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Isobel Quigley did an interesting book about the public school story (the literary p school as opposed to the RL one) but all I know of D Blaize comes from that. And there was a thing called The Hill, which sounded similar. Actually Eric Or Little By Little (which there's a line in Stalky and Co ridiculing) which I have read, is hilarious, for all the same over-earnest, people-don't-talk-like-that-EVER, reasons.

PG Wodehouse's St Austens stories are much more convincing, and in those and in the 1st Psmith book, he sends up the stereotypes of D Blaize etc, something rotten.

(You've kinda confirmed my decision not to read DB. :D )
Edited Date: 2008-09-19 06:52 pm (UTC)

Date: 2008-09-20 02:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*dies a thousand deaths* I'm reading The Hill now. I'm also eyeing PD suspiciously about now.

Date: 2008-09-20 02:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
PS: P.G. Wodehouse's what? Why do I not own these?

Eric I've never had my hands on, and know only second hand from horrified accounts.

Date: 2008-09-20 08:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
St Austin's, I misspelt the title, sorry, and don't really have it, but Google books had a list ( when I typed in Wodehouse + Austin's.

Um, very early Wodehouse, when he was still part-timing at bank and desperate to get out of 9 to 5, sold to edwardian schoolboy mags like The Captain. They're fluffy, but best read straight after some of the overpurple school stories that you're on now. I always liked Psmith + better than Emsworth or Wooster, and he makes a nice entrance in Mike, drawling through monocle at hero - they're both in head's office waiting to be interviewed - "Are you the bully, the pride of the school or the boy who takes to drink in chapter 22?"

just checked: you can testread them free at project gutenberg ( Heaven bless gutenberg.

edit because I cannot HTML reliably
Edited Date: 2008-09-20 08:44 pm (UTC)

Date: 2008-09-20 10:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Bless you and Gutenburg both. ♥ ♥ ♥

Date: 2008-09-20 10:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
it leaves me with a very slight urge to go beat up some nice boy in a uniform

::coughs discreetly::


Date: 2008-09-20 11:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The problem with you is, you know too much and guess the rest.

Date: 2008-09-20 04:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Perhaps, darling, because we have so many things in common.

Date: 2008-09-20 11:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That...yes. Oh dear.
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