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The Age of Scandal: An Excursion Through a Minor Period Paperback – Mar 1 1987


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Paperback, Mar 1 1987
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Univ Pr (T); New edition edition (March 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192819488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192819482
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,423,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 4 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Love regency romances? Read about the real word of the Ton March 6 2011
By Marshall Lord - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
T.H. White's book is a non-fiction description of the 18th century world of the "Haut Ton," of debutantes and Lords, told with charm and humour.

As Reay Tannahill's introduction to the 1993 Folio edition of this book says, it paints a picture of 18th century British society which is "outrageously partisan, appallingly opinionated, 100% politically incorrect, and highly entertaining from first to last."

The author is, or course, best remembered today for his novels about Merlin and King Arthur, but this delightful little work, first published in 1950, is at least as worthy of being remembered. Imagine Quentin Letts with all the humour and none of the vindictiveness, and you have some idea of his approach to life.

To give you a picture of the chatty style of the book, White begins by bemoaning "the end of civilisation in England" which statement he justifies by pointing out that when he was an undergraduate at Cambridge "the Master of a college was a fabulous being" who lived a life of surpassing luxury, but when he last stayed at the university he lunched with two masters of colleges and both had to help with the washing-up after the meal.

His descriptions of the differences between society in the 18th and 20th centuries are entertaining as well as fascinating. After describing how much faster various activities were routinely carried out in his own day compared with two centuries before - "The 18th century managed to eat so much more than we do because it ate more slowly. It could drink more, by drinking all night" he concludes that

"It would be interesting to find out whether the pulse rate has gone up."

As White describes, the world of the aristocracy and the ton was a much smaller body than even the highest levels of society today. At the start of George III's reign there were only 174 peers (there were nearly a thousand when White was writing and rather more, including life peers, today.)

The book describes many of the most notorious and interesting characters and events of the 18th century: it stretches a little into the 19th, about as far as William IV, but mostly it concentrates on the reign of George III. Brummell is mentioned four times in the book, but usually as a source. The chapter "A perfect tragedy" is one of the best accounts I have ever read of the circumstances leading up to the trial and execution of Admiral Byng, who was shot, as Voltaire put it, "pour encourager les autres." Other chapters cover the church, Doctor Johnson, schools, and the relationships between men and women, of which White wrote,

"The beauties who were the contemporaries of Walpole lived through romances of such intricacy and splendour that Hollywood in delirium could scarecely do them justice."

(though they recently had a good attempt at one of the most extraordinary such stories with "The Duchess [DVD] [2008]" starring Kiera Knightley.)

If you've every wondered what the reality behind the novels of Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer was like, or have considered trying to write a story set in that period yourself and are looking for somewhere to start your research, you will not do better than this book.

If you like this book, a similar volume which gives a lot more details of the facts of the period, and is probably more accessible although the prose is not quite so beautiful or amusing, is "Georgette Heyer's Regency World by Jennifer Kloester.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An Entertaining History of Eighteenth Century England Sept. 14 2009
By Diego Banducci - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book provides a highly amusing view of eighteenth century England, specifically the period immediately following the Augustan Age, i.e., the decades between the death of Alexander Pope (1744) and the publication of Wordsworth's "Lyrical Ballads" (1798). It is both educational and very funny.

If you're interested in purchasing a hardback version, consider the beautifully bound one published by the Folio Society in 1993.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An Entertaining View of 18th Century England Sept. 14 2009
By Diego Banducci - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book provides a highly amusing view of eighteenth century England, specifically the period immediately following the Augustan Age, i.e., the decades between the death of Alexander Pope (1744) and the publication of Wordsworth's "Lyrical Ballads" (1798). It is both educational and very funny.

If you're interested in purchasing a hardback version, consider the beautifully bound one published by the Folio Society in 1993.
6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Scandalous? Sept. 1 2000
By Ilana Stein - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
'Age of Scandal' details the sort of scandal and gossip that abounded during the 18th century. The king, his ministers and the "upper classes" were all subjected to the scandalmongers of the time, and White enjoys reporting on both the mongers and on their subjects.
T.H. White is a great writer, with an light manner that made this book relatively easy to read, despite its depth of detail. I believe however that it is somewhat dated. In comparison to today's media-oriented world where scandal has to be really BAD before we consider it "juicy" much of the "scandal" was just good fun. On the other hand, it was fascinating to learn about what was considered scandalous in England in the 18th century.


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