Wednesday, 7 December 2016

A Plea for Tolerance of WASPS....(James Gould Cozzens)

"I merit the reproof, no doubt," Julius Penrose said. "I can't say instinct is silenced; but I, perhaps, ought to be! Perhaps I should not glance at Mr. Brophy's religion. First; prejudice is in itself held censurable; an evil thing. So I'm anti-Catholic, am I? Still, in passing, I'll confess I wonder, as one of them, why the only people who may be openly criticized, found fault with, and spoken ill of, are those of white, Protestant, and more or less Nordic extraction. I, it seems, am game and fair game for everybody—a kind of caput lupinum. Nobody writes the papers threateningly when I'm decried or disparaged. I don't say this is unreasonable. I myself have no wish to abridge any man's right not to like me if he so chooses. Only, in my bewildered way, I keep thinking there ought to be a turnabout. There isn'tl Not only may each bumptious Catholic freely rate and abuse me if I reflect in the least on his faith; but each self-pitying Jew, each sulking Negro, need only holler that he's caught me not loving him as much as he loves himself, and a rabble of professional friends of man, social-worker liberals, and practitioners of universal brotherhood—the whole national horde of nuts and queers—will come at a run to hang me by the neck until I learn to love."
(from By Love Possessed by James Gould Cozzens)

I’m in the middle of this long, quite excellent novel, now moving in the direction of legal procedural which might be imagined to be dull but it isn’t. Clean, crisp prose which by not soaring shows that it is already elevated. I only came to know of him through an O’Hara biography. Naturally Cozzens was native to clubs which would not have O’Hara for a member. Don’t believe what you read about him. Some of his statements are not so much trolling as exquisitely delivered dry flies at the banks where the critics hover like cannibal trout.

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