There’s this scene in the movie Carrington that has stuck with me. If you haven’t seen it—and I know you haven’t, which is too bad, because for all its flaws, it’s worth seeing—Jonathan Pryce plays Lytton Strachey, mostly during and after the Great War, and deals in some measure with Mr. Strachey’s opposition to that war. He attempts to be classified as a Conscientious Objector, but is instead invalided on medical grounds. It’s implied that his outrageous persona is in developed in part as a performance to get the C.O. classification, but which he grows comfortable in for its own sake. At any rate, there he is, Bloomsburygrouping around at home while the war is going on and on and on. He knits socks for the boys, and (my recollection of this may be enhanced by the years since I saw it) the knitting is a provocation against martial masculinity while simultaneously being a sincere attempt to provide comfort to the young men who (not incidentally) he finds so attractive.
Anyway. He and Dora Carrington are, as I remember it, strolling through the a copse or something and come across a garden party. I don’t have any sense of the details. I remember, possibly inaccurately, the two of them, in the shadow of the trees, and the Bright Young Things in the sun, chattering and eating and running, giggling and shrieking and dancing. And Jonathan Pryce does this moue inside the preposterous but historically accurate beard, and pronounces: “Thousands of boys are dying every day to preserve this. D’y’know?” And then, slowly and with great precision: “God damn, confound, blast and fuck the upper classes.”
I have found the video! I don’t know how long it will be up, but try watching from about 5:00 to 5:30 or so.
Anyway, I was reminded of that today for some reason.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,