The autumn edition of City Journal features a thought-provoking Theodore Dalrymple essay reviewing three novels published in the year of his birth, 1949. These novels illustrate how far the decline of English society and culture has progressed since then. Incidentally, happy birthday to the good doctor and best wishes on celebrating 70 years. Cheers.
In an effort to assess what has changed, for better or worse, and what, if anything, has remained unchanged, I thought it would be interesting to consider three English novels published in the year of my birth. I am aware that this is not a scientific procedure: I chose the novels simply because they had long rested unread on my shelves and were the first ones published in 1949 that I came across.
His paragraph about irony virtually disappearing from Britain is rather silly. As for it being replaced by “querulousness and indignation”, this strikes me as nonsense as well (maybe that sounds too indignant of me). Away from the wretched media and twitter, not many people are very indignant. British people in general are perfectly pleasant to talk to and an undercurrent of irony is never far from the surface. One of the main things most British people miss when they move abroad is irony and humour – even Martin Amis living in the literary circles of New York complained about this.