“Never explain a joke” is one of the ground rules of life, I have always
believed. However, four different readers have now e-mailed in to say they
didn’t get the first of my Austen-Nietzsche quips: “Goest thou to woman? Do
not forget thy barouche-landau.” It didn’t help that I messed up the
spelling, but here’s an explanation.
One of the very few things we were taught about Nietzsche in my youth (I
mean, unless you were majoring in 19th century German philosophy) was that
he said: “Goest thou to woman? Do not forget thy whip!” Perhaps that was
just a peculiarity of English schooling (no further comment); or perhaps
it’s dropped out of the curriculum. It’s in N’s book ALSO SPRACH
ZARATHUSTRA (Thus spake Zoroaster), and in German reads:
“Du gehst zu Frauen? Vergiss die Peitsche nicht!”
A barouche-landau was a type of gentleman’s carriage in the early 19th
century. I can’t find a picture, but here’s a description.
Well, there’s a barouche-landau in Jane Austen’s novel EMMA. There now.