10 October 2019

Oh To Be An Undergraduate Again. Or Not.

Death on the Cherwell

Death On The Cherwell, by Mavis Doriel Hay, was a fun read, perhaps because I'm a sucker for books set in colleges - especially Oxford ones. It grabbed me from the second paragraph, which so beautifully describes new college students - past and present:

Undergraduates, especially those in their first year, are not, of course, quite sane or quite adult. It is sometimes considered that they are not quite human. Emerging excitedly from the ignominious status of schoolgirl or schoolboy, and as yet unsteadied by the ballast responsibility which, later on, a livelihood-earning career will provide, they enter the university like beings born again with the advantage of an undimmed memory of their former lives. Inspirited by their knowledge of the ways in which authority may be mocked, they are at the same time quite ridiculously uplifted by the easy possibility of achieving local fame in the limited university world during the next three years. Conscious of the brevity of their college life, they are ready to seize every opportunity to assert their individuality. The easily acquired label of “originality” is so much more distinguished than the “naughtiness” of their outpassed schooldays, and quite a lot of wildness may be mixed with a modicum of work and form a sound basis for a highly respectable later life.

It's a twisty silly mystery, but enjoyable - and sometimes that's just the ticket.


Anonymous said...

Great quotation - I've been reading about a nasty mess left in a freshman dorm last weekend. The college newspaper has a brilliant editorial about it - I'm aggravated that they have to point out that this isn't the first or even second editorial they've written about destruction. "Conscious of teh brevity of their college life" - I suppose it is an expression of individuality.