Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-99c86f546-7c2ld Total loading time: 0.296 Render date: 2021-12-08T20:42:40.717Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Chapter 4 - Conflicting manners

high realism and social competition

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Phillip J. Barrish
Affiliation:
University of Texas, Austin
Get access

Summary

Speaking at an influential and portentously named “Conference on the Heritage of the English-speaking Peoples and Their Responsibility,” hosted by Kenyon College in 1947, literary critic Lionel Trilling tried to explain a term that he believed was “nearly indefinable” but nonetheless fundamental to any attempt at articulating the identity of a nation or people. “Manners,” Trilling asserted, should not be understood as synonymous with the rules of politeness, which can be written down and mastered. Nor are manners equivalent to easily identifiable customs or any other “highly formulated departments of culture,” such as morals (“Manners, Morals, and the Novel” 11–12). Rather, the term manners refers to “what never gets fully stated” but instead constitutes “a culture’s hum and buzz of implication.” Manners are the “evanescent context of [a culture’s] explicit statements.” Insofar as manners consist of “that part of a culture which is made up of half-uttered or unuttered or unutterable expressions of value,” they reveal truths about the inner workings of a culture that are inaccessible if one reads only official documents or standard histories. Manners, Trilling continued, are indicated by “small actions,” such as the posture and bearing of a waiter while he is putting down a plate on a customer’s table. They include such subtleties as “the tone of greetings and the tone of quarrels” in a given culture, as well as “slang and humor,” “the arts of dress or decoration,” and even “the way children play” and “the nature of the very food we prefer” (12).

As no doubt seemed appropriate for a conference held at a moment just after one war had ended (the Second World War) and another was beginning (the Cold War), Trilling’s speech initially asserted that manners “are the things that for good or bad draw the people of a culture together and that separate them from the people of another culture.” Trilling’s wording here may have appeared to suggest a jingoistic vision of “English-speaking” culture as homogeneous, unique, and in some sense opposed to non-English-speaking cultures (the Germans? the Russians?). But he immediately went on to complicate things by adding, “in any complex culture there is not a single system of manners but a conflicting variety of manners.” He continued, “what we mean by a culture is the adjustment of this conflict.” Turning to literature, whose relation to “manners” he had in fact been invited to address, Trilling went on to argue that both “conflict” and attempted “adjustment” between differing sets of socio-cultural manners have been a key focus for the novel, ever since its founding as a literary form.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2011

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

  • Conflicting manners
  • Phillip J. Barrish, University of Texas, Austin
  • Book: The Cambridge Introduction to American Literary Realism
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139021678.005
Available formats
×

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

  • Conflicting manners
  • Phillip J. Barrish, University of Texas, Austin
  • Book: The Cambridge Introduction to American Literary Realism
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139021678.005
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Conflicting manners
  • Phillip J. Barrish, University of Texas, Austin
  • Book: The Cambridge Introduction to American Literary Realism
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139021678.005
Available formats
×