I ran across this post in my RSS feed this morning. The etiquette advice is sound, but what really caught my attention was the Punch cartoon used to head up the post, which I’ve reposted below:
It seems to be an appropriate image for a column on etiquette. Alas, it’s not. It’s one of George Du Maurier’s cartoons from a series called “Feline Amenities,” a recurring comic series about upper class women behaving badly. This particular cartoon was published in 1 January 1888 issue of Punch. The caption has been omitted here, and I assume it was cut from the image before it was reused. Here’s the image with the caption:
If you can’t read it, the caption has the woman looking at the pictures say the following: “Now which of these two photographs may I have of you dearest? The beautiful one, or the one as I know you?” The meaning is completely changed by the caption. I find it ironic that it’s being reused today on a blog posting about etiquette. I think Du Maurier would get a kick out of that since the “Feline Amenities” series uses etiquette as the vehicle by which women tear each other apart. I also think it illustrates the ways that Victorian periodical culture gets reused or repurposed today, and the importance of sideways reading. Removing the image from the text excises the humor of the cartoon.