14 September 2007

Bertram’s Hotel – where Heritage meets Prince Potemkin?

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A note on Agatha Christie’s novel, At Bertram’s Hotel.

‘Bertram’s Hotel. So many memories . . . The past fused itself with the present. A French phrase came back to her ‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’. She reversed the wording. Plus c’est la même chose, plus ça change. Both true she thought.’ (Agatha Christie, At Bertram’s Hotel, 1965)

‘The reality of the national heritage is like that of Bertram’s Hotel, an institution of Agatha Christie’s invention, which survives in the London of the nineteen sixties as an imperilled fragment of High Edwardian life. Intensely and preciously authentic, Bertram’s Hotel is also theatrical in atmosphere – real and yet also unreal. The unutterable question has eventually to be asked: “Could there really be anything seriously wrong with a place that served old-fashioned afternoon teas?” And the answer is that there certainly could be, for behind the manically traditional scenes of Bertram’s Hotel there is a multinational conspiracy going on: “These people; decayed aristocrats, impoverished members of the old County families” are indeed “all so much mise en scène.”‘ (PW, On Living in an Old Country, 1985, p. 74).

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This entry was posted on Friday, September 14th, 2007 at 11:59 am and is filed under Heritage & History, Potemkinism and Camouflage. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.