'astonishingly cynical'

'astonishingly cynical'

Victorian modesty is dying.  Finally, the scientific reasoning of Freud and his disciples has licensed the Anglo-Saxons to express their passions. 

In the London theatres you will see plays that are so bold no-one would dare stage them in Paris.  You will read American and English novels that are astonishingly cynical.  Don’t get carried away.  Their extreme cynicism is itself a sign that there remains a large portion of Puritanism.  This makes for a unique and explosive combination which a foreigner is advised to handle with care.  

Especially as the British masses are less convinced by these new mores.  Julian Huxley tells a representative story.  At the London Zoo, a lady approaches the keeper at the hippopotamus pit.

‘Excuse me,’ she asks, ‘Please could you tell me whether this hippopotamus is male or female?’

 The guardian looks aghast.

‘That, madam,’ he replies, ’is a question that can only be of interest to another hippopotamus.’

This keeper of animals is also the guardian of Victorian modesty.