THE WORLD OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOL by George MacDonald Fraser

THE WORLD OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

One thinks of Eton and Harrow, prefects and beadles, cricket and rugby, fags and masters, cads and bullies, sadistic punishments and kinky sex. One thinks, too, of the level of alumni achievement and the aristocratic remnants of that education--a tone of voice, a choice of words, a certain poise, a network of old boys. Elitist despite humble beginnings, the British public school has been a breeding ground for prime ministers and other exemplars; not all agree on who's in the club but most would include Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Charterhouse, Westminster, Winchester, Shrewsbury, and a handful of day schools, Dulwich among them. This collection of fourteen essays by Englishmen (and one woman) little known here touches on a broad range of topics: the extent of influence on British society, a defense of the schoolboy hierarchy, a description of Etonian slang, the significance of sport (in the 1870s, one could be ""fined half-a-crown and kicked"" for missing play), and of course painful memories of new-boy humiliations and utter misery: ""Never have I felt it so necessary to be a man as when I was a boy."" A reader must form his own conclusions from this skip-around (and sometimes contradictory) sampling, and anyone wanting more than a quickie course will have to enroll elsewhere.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1977
Publisher: St. Martin's