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Noblesse Oblige

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  188 ratings  ·  18 reviews
class structure in England
Hardcover
Published 1983 by The Akadine Press (first published 1956)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 445)
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David
U (upper class) v. non-U (middle class) identifiers in the language:

Highlights:
- Taking/having high tea: Non-U. I always knew this! Good to see it written down.
- Consulting etiquette books: Non-U. You either do it U, or you do it non-U. You aren't allowed to change or learn.
- addressing a man as "Sir": Non-U, unless you are an elderly academic(!).
- addressing a woman as "Miss": Non-U.
- "Cheers!": Non-U! "Until 1939, English U-speakers normally said nothing. Since then, however, the Service habit
...more
Marie Claire Grima
The English are super-weird about class.
Jessica
I love the Mitfords so I am biased, but this is a satiric look into English upper and non-upper class speech. Funny. Biting. Snobbish. For all of the humor behind it, it is a compelling sociological study as well.
Ginger Jane
Clearly I am not in on the joke.
Emma
The collection of essays and letters is a wonderful inside peek into the dividing line between the mythical U and Non-U. i've only read one essay but loved every minute of it, can't wait to read the rest.

(19 September 2009)
I am actually rather ashamed of myself for taking so long to finish this incredibly slim book. I am going to sink lower in my chair and use the particularly sad excuse that I have not had the time to finish it. Unfortunately I have had course work and life that got in the wa
...more
Wealhtheow
Squashed between fat books of grammar I found Noblesse Oblige, a set of essays on English colloquialisms and class in the twentieth century. The Hon. Mrs. Peter Rodd (aka Nancy Mitford)'s sharp little essay on "the identifiable characteristics of the English aristocracy" caused a flurry of letters and debate, some of which is published in this volume. Mitford set down a by-no-means comprehensive list of grammar, vocabulary, and modes of thought as Upper-Class or Not Upper-Class. In the 1950s, a ...more
Kay
Although of course it's now quite dated, thisexamination of "U" (upper class) and "non-U" usage remains a classic. Strangely enough, though British people are famed for their ability to "place" others in terms of class and origins by their speech, this wasn't a phenomenon that was much discussed before Mitford's book, which is a lighthearted but still quite penetrating look at British speech. Consisting of a group of pieces written by such literary luminaries as Mitford, Evelyn Waugh, John Betje ...more
Lauren
Over the years, I’ve had a handful of Brits tell me that Americans can never understand social classes. Reading Noblesse Oblige, I couldn’t help but agree.

To this twenty-first century American, it felt more satire than serious essays. While it is a humorous look on class distinctions in Britain (described here as U versus Non-U), it’s not entirely satire. It’s a fascinating looking into Britain’s social and cultural attitudes – attitudes that, even six decades later, remain entrenched, even if t
...more
Winterwade
An amusing, wry read- notwithstanding the considerable actual value of Professor Ross's research, which pre-dated the production of this volume- made all the more so given the fact that countless middle-class men and women strove to emulate their social betters based on the concepts presented- often in a subtle tongue-in-cheek manner- in this book.
Marí
Este no encaja en ninguna de las categorías que todavía no abordé, así que lo consideraré off challenge.
Joseph
Brilliant, witty, bitchy (meow, Mr Waugh) and informative.
Bhan13
It's pretty funny that some American readers think this series of articles was satirical (besides John Betjeman's poem, of course). It was an amusing close examination of a social custom, and a look at the contributors will let you know the level of the writing.
Kat
Amusing discourse on upper class language in Britain. It also includes various responses to the original article. I expect that it is v. dated (first published in 1956), but who knows?
Karen
Perfect reading for the Jubilee, even though rather dated. Very amusing.
Amara Thornton
are you u or non-u? a funny look at aristocratic lingusitics. judge yourself.
Mo
available at Rochester Public Library
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Nancy Mitford, CBE (28 November 1904, London – 30 June 1973, Versailles), styled The Hon. Nancy Mitford before her marriage and The Hon. Mrs Peter Rodd thereafter, was an English novelist and biographer, one of the Bright Young People on the London social scene in the inter-war years. She was born at 1 Graham Street (now Graham Place) in Belgravia, London, the eldest daughter of Lord Redesdale and ...more
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