Victoriana today

I’m well into a major fancy. After reading another novel by P.G.Wodehouse I’ve gone on to read a further two. Wodehouse is indeed the funniest writer to put pen to paper--at least, to do it so consistently.
Introducing my Wodehouse collection -- The Jeeves and Wooster Omnibus -- is a forward by Hugh Laurie(recognisable this week and the next as the acerbic quak on House --and a rather disappointing medical series it is too). Now Laurie and his mate Stephen Fry anchored a series of Wodehouse nuggets on TV a few years back and it was to the DVD version of these that I also turned.
Laurie is a superb Bertie Wooster and Fry an appropriately pompous and laxidaisical Jeeves. Everything is just so. The series is a gem.
ASIDE: To those with memories, both Fry and Laurie were stalwarts in Black Adder with Fry being the dottiest Prince of Wales imaginable and Laurie served as Elisabeth I’s advisor and later, along with Fry, as Black Adder’s supervising officers in the trenches during WWI.
But that Fry especially has been so keen to combine acting and writing career has got me wondering especially as he relates his roots to such Victorians and late Victorians as Wodehouse, Conan Doyle, and the like.
What is it with these English that they cannot negotiate their way forward with a bit of modernist lit-chic in their sails?
So it has got me thinking.
Let’s not hold it against Fry that he is an actor.
Bloom:Actors aren't animals... they're human beings!
Bialystock:Really? Have you ever eaten with one?

Instead let’s wonder about this Oxbridge tradition (as both these boys share the same alma mater) that combines (a)a penchant for Victoriana with (b)’smoking concert’theatrics and (c)a delight in humour and satire.
What’s the common thread, I wonder? My impression is that the cultural aspirations of the Victorians may have something to do with it. Its’ as though the leading cultural lights of those days may have had something going for them, and since their passing here and there we can still experience echoes of their accomplishments. With a long bow I can draw in not only Fry and Laurie, but Monty Python and a few notables, like Peter Cook, from the sixties who all thought "wit" was indeed wisdom.
Here in Australia, the only classicists in that sense have been people like Norman Lindsay and Barry Humphries despite both their penchant for being certifiably bohemian.
[French bohémien, from Bohême, Bohemia (from the unconventional lifestyle of Gypsies, erroneously supposed to have come from there).]
But a similar allegiance was followed by the late Stephen Jay Gould -- the paleontologist. He was major collector of Victoriana and commentator the period -- especially Darwinia. For him there was nothing like the sudden intellectual quickening that accompanied the 19th century sharp capitalist ascendency, creating as was its want, a new layer of middle class intellectuals. It’s almost the case that since them days -- we have to settle for less. A lot less.
Look at Bertie Wooster and his man Jeeves? They may have been written about from as far off as 1960 but they were creatures -- albeit creatures formatted and buffeted by class mores -- rooted in the preceeding century.
Of course there was Karl Marx too. Now theres' another great Victorian.

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