"How to Be Decadent" is a tongue-in-cheek and amusing book by British-Hungarian author George Mikes, very first published in 1961. The book is a negative and satirical analysis of British culture, attitudes, and habits during the post-war period, providing a guide on how to accomplish decadence in all elements of life. Mikes cleverly showcases the decline of British values and virtues through the amusing lens of decadence, poking fun at numerous British custom-mades and institutions.
The Concept of Decadence
In "How to Be Decadent", Mikes defines decadence as the process of cultural, intellectual, and ethical decrease in a society, whilst maintaining a look of charm and refinement. The book intends to provide an useful guide on how a person can adapt to this lifestyle of superficiality and debauchery. He recommends that true decadence can only be achieved by those who have totally welcomed the belief that life is meaningless and purely about enjoyment.
Throughout the book, Mikes playfully compares British society to other nations, declaring that British decadence stands apart due to the fact that it is more subtle and advanced. He notes the hypocrisy, vanity, and egotism displayed by the British individuals, arguing that these traits show real decadence.
Decadence in British Culture
Mikes identifies a number of areas of British culture that he believes exemplify the spirit of decadence. He explores the popularity of tea-drinking as a circumstances of both refined taste and unnecessary extravagance, along with the British disposition towards prudery and repression as a cover for perversion and scandal.
Next, Mikes critiques the class system in Britain, suggesting that the outdated traditions and absurdity of the upper classes add to the general decadence of society. He mockingly offers guidelines on how to replicate the behavior of the upper class, highlighting their ostentatiousness, vanity, and relatively pointless rituals. Additionally, the book observes the role of the British press in creating and perpetuating decadence, as it continuously focuses on scandal, gossip, and minor matters.
Finding Happiness in Decadence
In spite of its satirical and crucial tone, Mikes argues that there is a specific pleasure to be found in welcoming decadence. He recommends that by indulging in satisfaction, accepting the insignificance of life, and letting go of standards of morality, one can achieve a sense of freedom and enjoyment. The message underlying the humor in the book is that it may not necessarily be a totally unfavorable thing to delight in what others might think about decadent habits.
Although "How to Be Decadent" was written over six decades ago, it preserves its importance as a witty and informative satire of British culture. Mikes identified cultural qualities that still continue British society today, from the fascination with gossip and scandal to the weird customs and customizeds associated with the class system.
Additionally, the concept of decadence can probably be applied to a more comprehensive, worldwide context, as lots of cultural phenomena viewed as signs of decrease or moral decay exist in numerous societies worldwide. The idea that a person can discover a kind of joy in accepting decadence, or in relinquishing conventional values and pursuing satisfaction and self-gratification, has actually been embraced by numerous philosophical and cultural movements.
In conclusion, George Mikes' "How to Be Decadent" stays a legible, amusing, and thought-provoking expedition of both British culture and the idea of decadence. The book humorously critiques social custom-mades, institutions, and worths, offering an entertaining and insightful commentary on both British cultural identity and the larger human experience.
How to Be Decadent
Another humorous work by Mikes, providing a satirical take on the concept of decadence and offering comical guidance on how to live a decadent life.
Author: George Mikes
George Mikes, author known for his humorous books on English life. Discover his early years, career, quotes and Hungarian roots.
More about George Mikes