Sunday, February 10, 2019


Are They Any Better Off For It?

A.L. Rowse (1903-1997), A Cornish Childhood (London: Jonathan Cape, 1942), p. 138:
I am very much struck at the altogether better times in these respects children have to-day than we had. They have much more to spend, they have many more amusements, pictures and wireless and bicycles; they appear to get around and be taken about the country far more than we ever were. Are they any better off for it? I doubt it. In some ways worse off: their attention and enjoyment more dispersed, they can have much less time for reading and dreaming than I had: nothing like such an intense concentration upon the inner life of one's own imagination. Far too great an importance can be attached to the improvement of external 'standards' of life: the Labour Party, all Labour Parties, have made this mistake. Better that they attached more importance to the real standards that signify; but of them they have no comprehension. Such standards are essentially aristocratic, aesthetic, qualitative not quantitative, private:
Of the unequal I assert the sense,
The valued quality, the difference.
The couplet is from one of Rowse's own poems (unavailable to me).

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