Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Importance of Being English

On my evermore intense quest to devote all my free (and unfree) time to pointless election micro-spectating, I came across the following passage by Tory mayor of London Boris Johnson (as quoted by Andrew Sullivan):

Democracy and capitalism are the two great pillars of the American idea. To have rocked one of those pillars may be regarded as a misfortune. To have damaged the reputation of both, at home and abroad, is a pretty stunning achievement for an American president.

But, as yet unremarked upon by Sullivan or TPM, or any other blog I can find is the source of the quote. Dude's referencing Oscar Wilde! From The Importance of Being Earnest:

To have lost one parent, Mr. Worthing, might be considered a misfortune. To have lost both smacks of carelessness.

And now, the question: intentional allusion (my vote), or is Wilde enough of the daily imagination of Brits that this construction has become standard? Also -- only 2 more weeks until I get my life (and, God willing, my country) back.


Nitpicker said...

Can't prove it, of course, but my guess is that Johnson doesn't even realize that he's quoting. Evidence: at Oxford, he "read" Classics, not English Lit. On the other hand, he was "Shadow Minister for the Arts" at one point. His bio (wikipedia) is amazing: among other things, "he was a member of Oxford's Bullingdon Club, a student dining society known for its raucous feasts." This club's fictional version features in the opening chapter of E. Waugh's "Decline and Fall."

Standing Eagle said...

Right on! Clearly an allusion.

Can't wait to read your election posts.

On a scale of one to astute, all this rates very very high.

Btw, I give Obama a high A- so far. To get an A all he has to do is put Cheney in the dock; reasonable, right?

Standing Eagle said...

Dhoh! Electus interruptus.

Oh well. I know how it turns out.