The Gentleman in literature
A great source of a gentleman’s knowledge about gentlemanly activities, traits, habits and dress come from some quintessential gentlemen who never existed. These are gentlemen who can be found sitting in your library night after night (I mean this metaphorically, not literally – like the time I had to get a restraining order on Gregory Peck for persistent breaking and entering). Here, Brixley and Griffith will introduce you to some of their favourite gentlemen from the literature.
The protagonist of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, Phileas Fogg spent most of his days playing whist at the Reform Club. Upon a wager (from which he would not back down), he used all sorts of gentlemanly travel to circumnavigate the globe.
He also made sure to travel through some of the gentleman’s favourite destinations, including Yokohama, Bombay, Suez and London (where he lives). Not only that, but he wins the bet, marries an Indian girl that he meets on his travels, and punches the snide detective, Fix.
The protagonist of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby. In many ways, the only man a gentleman needs know about is Jay Gatsby. He throws lavish parties and has a large library. For what more could you ask? Well, in fact, Gatsby has much more. He is a bootlegger (the liquor kind), a war hero and built his fortune from the ground up (via the noblest of pursuits, bootlegging).
The story, though, ends when Gatsby is wrongly killed by a man who believes (incorrectly) Gatsby killed his wife. This is the fault of the perfect gentleman impostor – Tom Buchanan. Buchanan embodies all the traits that a gentleman should not have. I shan’t go into them here, because the quicker we move on from him, the better.Sherlock Holmes (and, to a lesser extent, Thomas Watson)
The smartest man that ever lived (after his brother Mycroft Holmes). He enjoyed opium, playing the violin and withholding the details of a crime until the very end of the story.
Sherlock Holmes invented the pipe, the magnifying glass and the deerstalker hat (which he used when he stalked or investigated suspects or deers) all in his abode at 221B Baker Street, London.
Sherlock Holmes’ greatest nemesis was Professor James Moriarty, a villainous rapscallion whose brilliant mind rivalled Holmes’ (generally when fighting next to waterfalls). Although they both fells to their deaths, Holmes used his power of ‘Literary Protagonist’ to stay alive and continued his adventures until retiring to become a bee keeper.
With his keen sense of deduction Holmes has become a literary gentleman of epic proportions. His powers of deduction were so good he could correctly split a bill and work out how much to tip a waiter after a short brunch.
There are, of course, many more gentleman to find in your very own library. We suggest you spend most of your time between sips of scotch and puffs of your cigar reading your gentlemanly literature and becoming well acquainted with the finest gentlemen there ever were.
So there you have it and until next time,
G.O. Brixley and H.L. Griffith