Sunday, April 1, 2007

Only Yesterday. Frederick Lewis Allen. Continued.

Significant Sentences. Ironic view of the 1920s.

Each of these diverse influence--the post-war disillusion, the new status of women, the Freudian gospel, the automobile, prohibition, the sex and confession magazines, and the movies--had its part in bringing about the revolution. Each of them, as an influence, was played upon by all the others; none of them could alone have changed to any great degree the folkways of America; together, their force was irresistible. p. 72.

Of far greater social significance, however, was the fact that men and women were drinking together. Among well-to-do people the serving of cocktails before dinner became almost socially obligatory.... The late afternoon cocktail party became a new American institution. p. 77.

It was better to be modern--everybody wanted to be modern--and sophisticated, and smart, to smash the conventions and to be devastatingly frank. And with a cocktail glass in one's hand it was easy at least to be frank. p. 79.

Along with the new frankness in conversation went a new frankness in books and the theater. p. 79.

The divorce rate...continued its steady increase: for every 100 marriages there were 8.8 divorces in 1910, 13.4 divorces in 1920 and 16.5 divorces in 1928--almost one divorce for every six marriages. There was a corresponding decline in the amount of disgrace accompanying divorce. p. 81.

Another result of the revolution was that manners became not merely different, but--for a few years--unmannerly. It was no mere coincidence that during this decade hostesses--even at small parties--found that their guests couldn't be bothered to speak to them on arrival or departure; that 'gate-crashing' at dances became an accepted practice; that thousands of men and women made a point of not getting to dinners within half an hour of the appointed time lest they seem insufficient blase; that house parties of flappers and their wide-trousered swains left burning cigarettes on the mahogany tables, scattered ashes light-heartedly on the rugs, took the porch cushion out in the boats and left them there to be rained one; or that men and women who had had--as the old phrase went-- 'advantages' and considered themselves highly civilized, absorbed a few cocktails and straightaway turned a dinner party into a boisterous rout.... p. 84.

...there was many a case of husband and wife experimenting with the new freedom and suddenly finding that there was dynamite in it which wrecked that mutual confidence and esteem without which marriage--even for the sake of their children--could not be endured. p. 85.

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