Tears before the storm
Ruth Bernard Yeazell
- The History of Tears: Sensibility and Sentimentality in France by Anne Vincent-Buffault
Macmillan, 284 pp, £40.00, July 1991, ISBN 0 333 45594 0
It was front-page news in the United States recently when George Bush brushed away a tear as he described how he had wept while deciding to unleash the air war in the Gulf last January. ‘Like a lot of people, I’ve worried a little bit about shedding tears in public or the emotion of it,’ he told a convention of Southern Baptists in June, but ‘as Barbara and I prayed at Camp David before the air war began, we were thinking about those young men and women overseas. And I had the tears start down the checks, and our minister smiled hack, and I no longer worried how it looked to others.’ As his voice broke, and he paused to dab at his check – ‘Here we go,’ he said, with an embarrassed grin – the audience burst into applause. Like the smiles of the minister in January, the cheers of the Baptists in June presumably commended both the President’s war and his weeping.
The full text of this book review is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.