Monday, June 07, 2010

Not accustomed to seeing great things

My companions, he said, I wrote, are nothing if not charming but it is already clear that the Americans carry national pride altogether too far. I doubt whether it is possible to draw from them the least truth unfavorable to their country. Most of them boast about it without discernment and with an aggressveness that is disagreeable to strangers and shows but little intelligence. In general it seems to me that they magnify objects in the way of people who are not accustomed to seeing great things. And these, you understand, are the travelers, the superior classes in this democracy.

— from Parrot and Olivier in America, by Peter Carey.

What do you think? Is it (a little bit) true? Is it (a little bit) funny? I happen to think it's a little bit of both, and if not exactly true, then a fairly true representation of how Americans are often perceived. Was it true circa 1830? Maybe I chuckle because I'm not American. Do Americans find this funny? Or will they run Peter Carey out of town?

It's a charming novel, breezes right along. I'm almost halfway; Parrot and Olivier have finally landed in America.

That night I dined as the Americans dined, that is, I had a vast amount of ham. There was no wine at all and no one seemed to think there should be.

I've supped, with wine, and am settling in to read...

3 comments:

Study Window said...

I suspect it is as true of some Americans as it would be of some representatives of any nationality. I enjoyed this book very much but would have probably got more out of it had I known more about the de Tocqueville. He doesn't exactly feature in UK education. As a Canadian are you in a better position?

Cipriano said...

Hah!
I am very much looking forward to reading this book.
Allegedly -- it is on its way to me, from the publisher..... mmmmmmmm.........

Isabella said...

I know next to nothing about de Tocqueville (I think that's a fairly typical Canadian experience), but this did not diminish the pleasure of this book for me. A bit more about it soon!

(I hope you get your copy soon, Cip!)