John McCain is now a Victorian. Sure don't seem like one to me, but what would I know? He seems like a well-adjusted American who was introduced to and developed a great appreciation for literature - the Great Conversation. These days, it seems, that literature is domain of the really smart - The Great Monlogue.
William (I call him Billy) Kristol, the really smart guy on FOX TV Cable News picked up on John McCain's allusion to 19th Century poet William Ernest Henley’s “Invictus” (1875). Have a White Owl, Billy!
John McCain said that 'We are Captains of our Fate' Billy caught that and coupled McCain's allusion to Henley's poem. Smart guy. Billy ought to stop by Keegan's Pub, when Jeopardy is on! 'I'll take Latin Poets and Hot Babes for $5,000 Alex!'
Kristol lets us know that McCain was alluding to 'Invictus.' Jimmy Molloy, now a retired Chicago Police Deputy Superintendent, got it. Chicago Fire Capt. Mike Miller got it. Hell, even I got. We read Henley in 1973 at Loyola University - The Public Transportation Harvard!
Annapolis Alumnus and Prisoner of War, John McCain used literature to off-set the horrors and depression of his five and half years of torture in the Hanoi Hilton.
I read Henley as part of a 19th Century British Literature survey course at Loyola University in 1973 - Henley was being dismissed as an artifact even then by the more fashionable professors and would be scooped up and taken to the memory dump by literary critics during the next thirty years, as cargo in the 'Dead White Guys' purge of literature and collective conscience.
Loyola University of Chicago is an urban Catholic school populated by lower middle class and middle class ethnic types. When I attended Loyola, my classes were filled with L-Riders from the south side at the Rush Street Lewis Towers Campus - my standard dress was grey janitors uniform to go along with my buzz hair-cut, as I was on 3-11PM shift after classes. My classmates often wore Khaki Police Cadet Uniforms, or Carroll's Red Hanger sports coats and smart young women's office wear for work at Sears on State Street and such.
Some of my classmates were Vietnam Vets and very few others attired themselves in Counter Culture wear. I had the late Dr. Hart, our Dean, for 19th Century Brit-Lit. He covered Henley and Kipling as well as the more canonized Ruskin, Arnold, Swinburne, Coleridge, Byron, Keats and Shelley.
In fact most of us in Hart's class enjoyed the Kipling and 'the minor' Victorians more as they promoted the values that each one of us lived - work hard, do a solid eight hours, take your lumps.
John McCain is very much like us L-Riders who became Police Officers, Firefighters, Sears Executives, School Teachers, Nurses, Accountants, and productive members of society. Loyola University provided a great education. Dr. Hart was not one of those teachers who dismissed writers, but introduced them to us - he allowed us to decide who was worthwhile and who was way off the critical mark.
Unlike John McCain, who was in the last years of his personal Gethsemane, we played with meter and message of 'Invictus' - we became Captains of our own souls.
We get it Billy. I don't think that makes McCain a Victorian - he's seems more of an Edwardian to me - sword in the cane; brandies with Oscar and Shav; having a bash at the Motts, Cards and Dice at Monte Carlo and what not?!
Click my post title for Billy Kristol's smart guy massage of John McCain. Billy was writing McCain's political obituary a couple of weeks ago, when all the L-Riders were supporting John McCain. Loyola University is a splendid school - thank you.
Ad Majoram Dei Gloriam