The Butlers of Post WWI England Are the Millennial Tech Company Underlings of Today

“In fact, a comparison of how I might interpret a ‘distinguished household’ with what the Hayes Society understood by that term illuminates sharply, I believe, the fundamental difference between the values of our generation of butlers and those of the previous generation.  When I say this, I am not merely drawing attention to the fact that our generation had a less snobbish attitude as regards which employers were landed gentry and which were ‘business.’  What I am trying to say –– and I do not think this an unfair comment –– is that we were a much more idealistic generation.  Where our elders might have been concerned with whether or not an employer was titled, or otherwise from one of the ‘old’ families, we tended to concern ourselves much more with the moral status of an employer.  I do not mean by this that we were preoccupied with our employers’ private behavior.  What I mean is that we were ambitious, in a way that would have been unusual a generation before, to serve gentlemen who were, so to speak, furthering the progress of humanity.  It would have been seen as a far worthier calling, for instance, to serve a gentleman such as Mr. George Ketteridge, who, however humble his beginnings, has made an undeniable contribution to the future well-being of the empire, than any gentleman, however aristocratic his origin, who idled away his time in clubs or on golf courses.”

Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day

 

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