Sunday, December 20, 2015

Stage-Land: Curious Habits and Customs of Its Inhabitants

Jerome K. Jerome - Stage-Land: Curious Habits and Customs of Its Inhabitants (1889)

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Jerome K. Jerome isn't an obscurity but this doesn't appear to be one of his better known books - at any rate I'd never heard about it.  For this book he took a parodic approach to stage drama conventions, going through hero, heroine, villain, servant girl, comic lovers, the good old man, lawyer and other stock characters.  The hero, for instance:  "His chief aim in life is to be accused of crimes he has never committed, and if he can muddle things up with a corpse, in some complicated way, so as to get himself reasonably mistaken for the murderer, he feels his day has not been wasted."  For the servant girl:  "Her duties are to dust the legs of the chairs in the drawing-room.  That is the only work she ever has to do, but it must be confessed she does that thoroughly."

Probably those excerpts don't really do Stage-Land justice since it's a rather good-natured approach and works from accumulation and detail.  So little has changed that most of this still applies to modern films and TV shows - there may not be many servant girls any more but think of office workers for the same effect.