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November 13, 2011

Comments

LordSidcup

"AFAIK"?
Please lose the text-speak.

( unless, you too haven't developed mentally since your last year at school).

Charles Wheeler

Thank goodness for that. That makes things a lot easier.

Roger

Chris,

Even if Wodehouse was not a Nazi the ihr.org site to which you approvingly link most certainly is.

To give a random example of the sort of revisionism it peddles:

"The Sound of Music" is perhaps the most popular American musical picture ever produced. But whatever its merits as entertainment, the film's presentation of history is deceitful. In particular, its portrayal of the 1938 union or Anschluss of Austria with the German Reich is a gross distortion of historical reality....

And,

'The calamity of September 11 was a consequence, above all, of the Jewish-Zionist grip on American political life and the U.S. media'.

(Both from its homepage which also features pieces from Gilad Atzmon and one-time Castroite James Petras a although being the sort of site it is I doubt either got asked before they linked).

Please tell us you thought that this IHR was the Institute for Historical Research in London...

chris

@ Roger - I wasn't aware of the IHR's provenance - I was citing that article only.
@ Lord Sidcup - you flatter me. I left school years before textspeak was thought of.

Roger

Thank God - I was worried you'd had a Road to Nuremberg conversion...

So do you still think that a neo-Nazi holocaust revisionist (and IHR are well-known as market leaders in that field) is a better person than you?

And this is precisely how IHR work: they produce what look like solid academic articles on many subjects and go to some trouble to make sure that they are google-optimised - someone like you finds a relatively innocuous one and links to it - their page ranking goes up and someone else may eventually find themselves clicking through to other IHR articles asking whether six million really did die or whether the von Trapp children were agents of Judaeo-Bolshevism.

You really need to do something about that link.

Paul0Evans1

I'd agree with this post (and it seems to be part of your extremist/fanatic meme which is a really good one). The line about "we live in an era when such posturing is the norm" is a timely one. Last week, I stopped turning to my favourite bits of newspapers (the football bits) because they were entirely devoted to John Terry's selection and England being allowed to wear poppies on their strip.

Not sure how a political life that's entirely devoted to posturing can be discouraged, but it would be a useful application of the 'hive mind' of the internet, if such a thing does exist.

George Hallam

P.G Wodehouse's writings have given me great pleasure over the years. Also I have very little sympathy with either empty gestures or the “pious English habit of regarding the world as a moral gymnasium” built expressly to strengthen ones character in.

However I can't agree with you say that had Wodehouse refused to broadcast “it would not have materially weakened the Nazis or strengthened the Allies by an atom.”

In fact the broadcasts made in the summer of 1941, i.e. before the US entered the war and were aimed at the US public.
One needs to look at the way the broadcasts strengthened the public image of the Nazis in the US.

Just by allowing any sort of broadcast was an obvious propaganda advantage for the Nazis since it made them seem more liberal and easy going then they were. Wodehouse made clear that the prison conditions he experienced were tough, but not life threatening. This was another plus as it was a counter to stories about concentration camps.

Arguably the benefit was not large but it did exist and it was on a scale somewhat greater than the odd atom.

Had Wodehouse refused to broadcast he would have denied German fascism a small advantage. This would not have been much but it was something he could have done.
I can’t see how such defiance could be dismissed as an “egotistical posture” because had Wodehouse refused to broadcast the Nazis would hardly have advertised the fact.

Talking of atoms...

In September 1941, about the same time as the broadcasts Neils Bohr was visited by Heisenberg in Copenhagen.
In Michael Frayn's play Copenhagen Heisenberg suggests to Bohr that he should attend cultural receptions at the German embassy. Was Bohr’s refusal just an “egotistical posture”?

Luis Enrique

Not sure about this. The set of things which have no practical importance yet I think a person ought not do is large, and I'm reluctant to call it all egotistical posturing. I think many brave and good people have done things you'd deride as such.

Torquil macneil

I love Wodehouse too and can forgive him his political mistakes but I think some of the lengths that his defenders go to betray their anxiety to maintain a unblemished view of the man than any historical reality. Wodehouse was a collaborator. A very very public one. That needn't mean he should be hounded out of sixety (although the careers of others who did far less were destroyed by it) but we needn't leap through hoops pretending tat one of he greatest writers in English of all time had te mentaility of an infant either. Refusin to work for Nazis is hardly 'grandstanding, after all, no-one but Wodehouse would have known. Nor was the price of not collaborating exactly ferocious, it's not like he had a gun at his head. And Wodehouse may have been largely apolitical, at least in his public persona (we should beware taking writers too much at their own word), but even he must have noticed that the Germans he was working with had just arrived in France uninvited and in tanks and that rather a lot of the people he used to know had somehow mysteriously vanished. For a man as 'unworldly' as Wodehouse, he sure seemed to accumulate a lot of money and property working in such gentle, uncompetitive, and unmaterialistic places as Broadway and Hollywood.

Roger

I'm not sure what fallacy applies but why do we intellectuals have to pretend that producers of great literature must be to at least some degree great men?

My own bookshelves groan under the weight of books by Waugh, Eliot, Yeats, Pound, Hamsun, Junger, Stuart, Montherlant, Celine, Williamson, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Belloc, Chesterton, Faulkner, Mencken, Nietzsche, Schmitt - all men who held monstrous political views and who in many cases were complete shits in their personal lives too.

I'd also argue that the greatest living novelist is VS Naipaul - a right-wing sexist snob whose personal obnoxiousness is legendary.

If anything the relationship between great writing and personal and political decency seems to be an inverse one.

In this company Wodehouse's faults hardly register - but much as I love his books I can't admire his disengagement.

My two working class grandads may never have said - much less written - a single word worth preserving but they spent 1939-45 in uniform doing their bit while Wodehouse comfortably sat out the war in his internment camp.

If those and all the other millions of not particularly good - but still good enough to get the job done - men and women in the allied armies and in the fields and factories behind them had all chosen to do nothing where would we all be now?

Wodehouse was presented with one great moral test in his long and privileged life and utterly failed it.

This makes him a lesser man than all but the meanest of his contemporaries (at least on our side)

But it doesn't affect his greatness (and I still judge the quality of any library or bookshop by whether they have more Wodehouses than have Woolfs on the W shelf) as a writer in any way.

Roger

Chris,

As you removed the link to the IHR piece could you remove my two comments pointing it out as well?

TACJ

All it would have done would be to signal Warehouse’s “moral compass”.

Is the use of "Warehouse" here a typo or a reference to some obscure bit of Wodehouse-ania?

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