Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Pleasure of Your Company: Preface

"This book was written as much for men as for women, as much for people of moderate means as for rich ones. We never had any 'ideal reader' in mind while we wrote it, except, perhaps, a rather intelligent person trying to live with dignity and grace.

Our ambition was to give this person, and those who were most like him, something more comfortable, something less imbued with the spirit of snobbery than the other books we have read on the same subject. Those which we have come across usually contain numerous statements to the effect that certain things are 'only done' in the provinces, or the suburbs, or the servants' hall, as the case may be. Such statements seem to us very offensive and absurd, and we have tried not only to avoid writing anything like them, which was easy, but even to refrain from private dis­cussion upon those narrow lines.

We have taken a middle course and resigned our­selves to doing without readers whose position, either financially or socially, is extreme and exceptional - the enormously rich and the acutely poor, those too exalted to need counsels and those who would not or could not take them. It is true that many suggestions unsuited to a slender purse will be found in our pages, but the less well-to-do inquirer has only to ignore them and turn to others better adapted to his means. We have, as we say, excluded millionaires, but we could not overlook the fact that the rich (as apart from 'the very rich') were entitled to a place in our scheme; in short, that:

Hearts just as pure and fair
May beat in Belgrave Square
As in the lowly air
O f Seven Dials!

Throughout the book we have dropped freely into personal reminiscence, because impersonality, though doubtless very laudable, gives rise in such a work as this to stiffness, and stiffness gives rise to snobbery, or something that looks distinctly like it. And besides, it's very disagreeable to have to forget all one's own tastes and distastes in writing a book. We are not at all sure we could have managed it."
The Pleasure of Your Company by June & Doris Langley Moore

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