In My Day…

One of the many things I like about novels from different times and places is when something is said that is so utterly timeless that it reminds me that we aren’t all that different.

Last month I talked about how even the ancient Greeks knew what it was to really fancy a particular food for no reason and today I thought we’d chat about how older generations talk about younger people. The current media is convinced that the Baby Boomers (anyone born from the mid 1940s to the mid ’60s) are in a constant battle with the Millennials (anyone born in the 1980s to the mid ’90s), but did previous generations get on any better?

Just to warn you – I am going to talk about Tolstoy this week but don’t worry, I’ll be looking one of his short stories not his novels. While I quite like his novels, I do appreciate that people tend to read War and Peace because they feel the should, don’t enjoy it and it’s really long, and get put off Tolstoy completely. It’s true that his short stories are of variable quality – and be careful reading his children’s stories to actual children – when he’s good, he’s really good (and I’d recommend the short story book linked above to get you started).

After The Ball is about a gentleman recalling a particular night and morning that had happened many years ago. He remembers the person that he was:

I was a very gay, lively, careless fellow, […] and used to go tobogganing with the young ladies. Skating had not yet come into fashion. I went to drinking parties with my comrades – in those days we drank nothing but champagne – if we had no champagne we drank nothing at all. We never drank vodka, as they do now.

He goes on to describe dancing with a beautiful young woman that he was in love with until he was unconscious of any bodily existence. A friend suggests he must have been conscious of your arm round her waist at the very least, and the older man becomes angry.

There you are, moderns all over! Nowadays you think of nothing but the body. It was different in our day. The more I was in love the less corporeal was she in my eyes. Nowadays you set legs, ankles, and I don’t know what. You undress the women you are in love with. […] We never thought of doing so; we tried to veil her nakedness, like Noah’s good-natured son. Oh, well, you can’t understand.

I’m sure young people still go tobogganing together as well as drinking vodka and thinking about… ankles. It was ever thus.

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10 thoughts on “In My Day…

    1. What did you think of it? Did you enjoy reading it or happy to have read it?

      I think it has a great opening chapter – I was expecting high literature, that it would be hard but I felt up to the challenge, then got gripped within half a page by the people.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The Tolstoy short story is a great example to show that the generation gap has always been there and always will be. When we were all young, we always rebelled and went on to do things differently. It’s how change happens. Every 15-24 year old listened to different music, wore their hair differently and had a different style of clothes that fit the time. It doesn’t make us different, it just means that as times change there are different ways generations going about doing things. I find it amazing to me we have these battles with our elders. We the elders really need to accept the changes that come and that the younger generation behind us will run our country and society and they will take care of this. I don’t always like computer technology, but I accept it as part of a revolutionary change. I see a lot of the younger generation who wear pink, green or blue hair or have nose rings or those disk rings in their ears. That doesn’t mean they are any different or that they are some sort of freak. It means that times have changed and this is the style we are in during the 21st century. Your seemed to bring that out in your blog post. I told you I would be back to read more. Love your work josbees. You fascinate me.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Well put – the more we as a society think we’ve changed, the more we stay the same. I’m sure younger generations will think their grandparents look daft with blue hair, but then their own grandchildren will think it’s a great idea…

      Thanks for reading, glad you’re interested in this stuff too 🙂


  2. Beautiful tribute to Tolstoy! I read War and Peace when I was a teenager because I was on a camping trip, and there was nothing else to read but the book my mother had just finished.:-) (Yeah, a lot of it went over my head!)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. So I have this weird idea about long books – length can be a feature, not a bug! Over the last few years, I’ve gotten into Neal Stephenson, and his books are whoppers. But they need to be. Plus, I find something new every time I re-read them. I think Snow Crash and Anathem are my favorites of his.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Neal Stephenson is great! I love Cryptonomician and Quicksilver particularly but I think Snow Crash is probably my favourite. I have no complaints about how hefty his books are! I think authors write long books now for very different reasons than authors like Tolstoy did, and in a very different way (I think).

      Have you read any China Miéville? Again, great SFF author who writes looong books, but totally worth your time.


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