Sunday, August 5, 2018

Emily’s Etiquette Book Backlash

“Saucers for vegetables are contrary to all etiquette.” – Advice from Emily Post’s 1922 “Etiquette––the Blue Book of Social Usage”
Emily Post was a New York socialite who turned to writing after her 1906 divorce. First trying her hand at novels, in 1922 and at the age of 50, Post’s reworked version of Emily Holt’s 1901 “Encyclopaedia of Etiquette,” titled “Etiquette––the Blue Book of Social Usage” was published. Countless etiquette books had already been written for centuries before, but within a year of Post’s book being published, the British press was poking fun at Americans. They delighted in mocking those they viewed as pushy and upwardly mobile, nouveau riche Americans, who bought Post’s book, striving to be part of what she called, “Best Society.”









Many English Papers Mock U. S. Customs

——————

Press Is Poking Fun at Supposed ‘Cultural Revolution’

LONDON— Certain English newspapers seem to delight in poking fun at American customs nnd manners, and some of the London publications make more or less a practice of parading the idiosyncrasies and habits of American tourists. This is especially true where American customs differ from the orthodox traits of the Englishman. 


A London newspaper with a circulation of 1,000,000 has featured the following paragraph regarding a “cultural revolution” which was taking place in the United States: “Cuspidors are being removed from countless American drawing rooms. Chewing gum is being scraped off parlor chairs. Several million Americans spend hours daily in practising the correct pronunciation of the words ‘aunt,’ ‘clerk,’ ‘derby’ and ‘advertisement’.” Then came the ironical information that “bootlegging is no longer the principal occupation of the cultured minds of America.” and that much more time is being spent “In reading the social culture advertisements and learning how easy it is to misbehave “unless one buys the book of good manners.” 

The British public is told that a great wave of etiquette is sweeping America. “Half America’s 110,000,000 people are now spending a large part of their time in watching the other half and seeing that they conform to the rules of social culture,” says this satirical Journal. Patrons of restaurants are pictured as spending so much time watching one another that they eat only about a half what they consumed before the wave of etiquette struck America. The paper quotes a Broadway manager as saying that “when a diner uses his knife on a salad or takes two bites at a strawberry, such a hush falls upon the assembly that one can even hear the orchestra.” — Associated Press Correspondence, 1923


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia