Why Are Some People Snobs 1


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung | Discussion of 01/20/2007The nobility in a haystack

Julian Fellowes won an Oscar and wrote a fast-paced social novel: A date in London for afternoon tea and jovial gossip.

From Felicitas von Lovenberg

British society, said the Hungarian George Mikes, who loved to explain England and its exotic inhabitants to the perplexed rest of the world, is characterized by the fact that the ruling class does not lead, the working class does not work and the middle class is not in the middle am located. You could also put it this way: if three Englishmen wash up on a desert island, they have set up a class system within an hour.

Julian Fellowes is more like Oscar Wilde: never speak badly of society; only people who don't belong do that. Ever since he received an Oscar four years ago for his screenplay for Robert Altman's "Gosford Park", he has been asked to speak up about society, especially the upper English class - after all, he had the upheavals and entanglements that arose during one Play the hunting party weekend 1932 on an English country estate among the guests and their servants brought with them, relishly captured in brilliant and vicious dialogues.

Julian Fellowes leans back in the armchair and says that the Oscar is - next to his wife - the best thing that has ever happened to him. Precisely because, like his marriage, he came relatively late in his life. He was already fifty-two when he won the Oscar; before that he had made his way as a busy and underpaid actor with ungrateful supporting roles - who still remembers the Secretary of Defense from the Bond film "Tomorrow Never Dies" or the character of Desmond Arding in Attenborough's "Shadowlands"? Everything changed with the Oscar. He has since directed his first own feature film, "Separate Lies" (True Lies), for which he also wrote the template; He writes and presents the documentary series "Julian Fellowes Investigates: A Most Mysterious Murder" about mysterious criminal cases for the broadcaster BBC One; he wrote the script for the West End musical "Mary Poppins", which was exported to Broadway a few weeks ago; he moderates the grammar quiz "Never Mind the Full Stops" and supplies members of the Conservatives with speeches. But the decisive turning point was not that of the neglected actor to the sought-after filmmaker, but the most important decision of his life was to marry his wife, Emma Joy Kitchener, at the age of forty. "She completely changed the way others perceive me. With her by my side, I was suddenly someone who was taken seriously."

Above all, however, he has written a novel, "Snobs", which, when it was published in Great Britain in 2004, also counted among its enthusiastic readers in Germany socially well-versed readers such as "Manners" -Prinz Asfa Wossen-Asserate and some irony-capable aristocrats. Now Julian Fellowe's novel has finally come out in a - well-done - German translation.

Julian Fellowes suggested the dignified Cadogan Hotel on Sloane Street as a meeting point, on the middle packhorse path between the shopping spree of Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge and the General Trading Company in Sloane Square. We have arranged to meet for tea, which after a while will be served appropriately with sandwiches, scones and clotted cream. The waiter, who speaks with an Indian accent and scurries around us, cumbersome to refill tea, is waved away by Julian Fellowes with set words, but with audible vocal irritation. "Unbearable, these people. But I'm ashamed because I hit him like that." Which brings us to the subject: the modern obsession of every class of society to pretend under all circumstances that there are no more class differences. Julian Fellowes thinks this is sheer nonsense: "Just take Austria! They should urgently reactivate their Archduchy, then the small country would get much more attention."

The longing for display, which the couple Fiona Swarovski and Karl-Heinz Grasser are serving in a princely manner in Austria, is only an external aspect of Julian Fellowes' spirited plea for a return to the old order. "Mankind needs rules," he says with conviction, stirring his tea with enthusiasm, "and perhaps the most momentous mistake of the twentieth century was the artists' belief that the removal of all rules would create a more interesting society." That was acceptable for the exclusive circle of the avant-garde, but today the avant-garde is in power in the form of Tony Blair and his cronies. The old establishment is fighting a battle that is long over. One could look for role models for a long time. But one thing has not changed as a result: a class society is known not to be characterized by the fact that the privileged are aware of their privileges, but that the disadvantaged are constantly reassuring themselves that they are disadvantaged.

Julian Fellowes, who was born in Egypt in 1949 as the son of a diplomat and Arabist, attended the right schools and studied in Cambridge, attributes his intimate knowledge of English society to having seen it from different angles: through his own Own origin, which can be described as noble, and from the clown perspective of the underpaid actor. He combines these two in his novel to form a brilliant social satire.

"Snobs" tells the story of Edith Lavery, the daughter of a tax advisor and a mother who feels called to higher things, who, with wisdom, discipline and lack of illusion, manages to marry Charles, Earl Broughton, the only son of the Marquess of Uckfield and his wife. The country life between charity bazaars and dinner parties under the disapproving glances of the mother-in-law and with pearl necklaces and rubber boots as permanent accessories ripples along - until an actor named Simon who is as handsome as he is untalented appears.

"Snobs" is a fast-paced infusion of the great comic and evil of English literature such as P. G. Wodehouse, Evelyn Waugh and Kingsley Amis, spiced with a good shot of Plum Sykes and "Hello!" Magazine. The novel is so bursting with bon mots and apt observations that one doesn't immediately notice the morality that Fellowes has cleverly wrapped in it with laughter. "We need a few more rules that are worth adhering to." And books to keep us entertained while we look for them.

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