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Tears as a sign of -- what

I have been thinking back over my story, and realize that there is a lot of manly weeping in it. My understanding is that Englishmen of the 18th century, even the end of it, did not regard tears with shame.

100 years later, by the cusp of WW1, things seem to have been very different. Lots of the upper lip going on. Yet it is my assertion, that guys, and causes for weeping had not changed all that much.

Can anyone who has done more research speak on this?

Comments

( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
latin_cat
May. 17th, 2012 05:25 pm (UTC)
I can. How much detail do you want? You are basically right, though.

Edited at 2012-05-17 05:25 pm (UTC)
serge_lj
May. 17th, 2012 05:31 pm (UTC)
I'm curious to know too.
eglantine_br
May. 17th, 2012 05:40 pm (UTC)
Ooh, that was quick. I would like as much detail as you feel inclined to give. If you have a booklist to throw in, I will take it with thanks as well. You are awesome!
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vsee
May. 17th, 2012 06:00 pm (UTC)
This is a really interesting question. I want to hear as much as anyone happens to know!
ioanite
May. 17th, 2012 06:53 pm (UTC)
Ok, I'm getting these excerpts from a biography of Josephine Bonaparte, but there's no reason to believe it didn't hold true for Englishmen as well;

"In the eighteenth century, weeping was not just an expression of grief but a social skill, a sort of art de vivre. 'Tears were mighty orators' that told a multitude of stories. Encouraged by Rousseau's belief that to cry brings us back 'to the body and nature', the eighteenth-century cult of sensibility demanded that men and women cry when they were happy, when they were sad, when there were in love and when they had fallen out of love...Even in Britain--later so famed for its stiff upper lip--weeping was widespread. During one altercation in the House of Commons the two protagonists, Messrs Fox and Burke, burst into tears...This sensibility was considered to be particularly developed in women...Weeping was not just esteemed but also eroticized."

From "The Rose of Martinique; A Life of Napoleon's Josephine", pages 248-249.

I read that passage in a library once, and was not only persuaded to get my own copy, but immediately had ammunition for all the people who said it was unmanly for my characters to cry.
esmerelda_t
May. 17th, 2012 09:30 pm (UTC)
There's an assumption I think by lots of people that because things were a certain way in the Victorian era then they must always have been like that, which is of course nonsense. I do wonder though if the increasing indusrialization of war had any impact, there comes a point where if you don't adopt a stiff upper lip you'd never get out of bed in the morning.
auburn_whelan
Jun. 12th, 2012 03:45 am (UTC)
Having just finished a uni. course on literature of the modern Western world, I think you're quite right in that conclusion. With WWI being fought in trad. ways against very devastating and unprecedented weapons, the horror forced soldiers to resort to basic instincts, but it also forced them to leave behind any "sentimentality." All Quiet On the Western Front (among other novels) really gets into that idea of having to do away with emotion for your own survival.
anteros_lmc
May. 17th, 2012 09:48 pm (UTC)
Not much to add to the fascinating and very erudite answers above, however in the many contemporary accounts I've read of life aboard ship in the late 18th early 19th century there are plenty of references of men, both fore and aft of the mast, weeping with sorrow and joy. Such displays of emotion tend to be recorded without comment, suggesting they were nothing out of the ordinary.

If I come across any specific instances while I'm reading I'll let you know.
eglantine_br
May. 18th, 2012 02:42 am (UTC)
Certainly Jack Aubrey felt no shame in it.
anteros_lmc
May. 20th, 2012 10:09 am (UTC)
No, nor Horatio. Although, it's interesting that it has almost become fandom cannon that Archie does not cry.
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nodbear
May. 18th, 2012 11:03 am (UTC)
I don't have much to add either as so much apt already said.

But to mention our ususal suspects Osler's
Life of Lord Exmouth tells of the meeting of Ned and Captain Bergeret when the latter was captured after losing his frigate the Psyche

The story goes that Beregeret was brought on board as a prisoner to surrender his sword and on sight of one another they flung their arms aorund each other and wept. Osler speaks of the sight being ao affecting that it drew tears to the eyes of others present.

This kind of open readiness to show affections certainly complimented by the letter Ned wrote to Bergeret soon after in an effort to comfort him which is one of the treaures of the recent set of documenst anteros and I unearthed in the Bergeret archive in Bayonne
eglantine_br
May. 18th, 2012 12:04 pm (UTC)
That did a lot more kissing and manly embracing than now. ('Oh, see, the Frenchman is kissing our skipper.')
(no subject) - anteros_lmc - May. 20th, 2012 10:08 am (UTC) - Expand
anteros_lmc
May. 24th, 2012 08:37 pm (UTC)
While we're on the subject of tears... I picked this up in a tumblr feed earlier today. JB describing watching the final episode of BSG:

“I watched the finale of “Battlestar Galactica” at the Television Academy surrounded by cast, crew, friends, and family. Bear was sitting right behind me. When the credits rolled at the end I was desperately trying to bury my streaming face into my wife’s arm to avoid unmanly embarrassment.

Bless!
eglantine_br
May. 24th, 2012 10:10 pm (UTC)
So sweet. So the emotionally aware modern man, is just a return to what men had been before. There is something good about that, at least.
anteros_lmc
May. 25th, 2012 10:01 pm (UTC)
Yes I think you're right :) And what a sweetie!
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