Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Book Review: “Basic British,” by Victor Ross

A slim volume of droll comedy, first published in 1956 but still having a web presence and still available. The author was a European member of an endangered minority who made his way to England during the late 1930's in an ultimately successful effort to remain alive.

Herein he has some fun, considerable fun, with the concepts of being British, becoming British, and all things British. Mr. Ross made a great success of it, making quite a mark in British publishing circles. He never became English, becoming English is, after all, impossible, in the same way that becoming a turtle is impossible, if you are not one already. He was, however, naturalized. Becoming British seems to be easy, at least the evidence in the public record indicates that it is. Obviously, almost anyone can do it.

The numerous foibles of those natural Brits, the English, are skewered with great enthusiasm:

(On Racial Matters) “The ordinary Englishman is in any case not very race-conscious. Being surrounded by so many inferior breeds, he finds further discrimination between them barely worth while. For instance, it would be unjust to call him anti-semitic; he just does not particularly care for Jews, much as a lion is not anti-monkey, although now and then he will eat one as much from absent-mindedness as from inner conviction.”

I highly recommend this book. If you are a fan of British humor, you'll love it. If you are currently not a fan of British humor, do not be misled by any unsatisfactory interactions you may have had with English people, this stuff is funny!

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