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England: The Making of the Myth from Stonehenge to Albert Square

Duffy, Maureen

Verlag: Fourth Estate, London, 2001
ISBN 10: 1841151661 / ISBN 13: 9781841151663
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Titel: England: The Making of the Myth from ...

Verlag: Fourth Estate, London

Erscheinungsdatum: 2001

Einband: hardcover

Zustand: Very Good

Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Good

Signiert: Signed by Author

Art des Buches: Used


Hardcover signed by author on title page and signed again with dedication on FEP. Jacket shows grubby marks and light tanning on edges; upper leading corners and spine head are slightly worn. Hardcover spine foot very slightly bumped. Page block is a little discoloured with one or two faint stains; page edges are lightly tanned but all remain sound and clean with clear text throughout. TS. Buchnummer des Verkäufers 259918

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In the style of ?Longitude? and ?Fermat?s Last Theorem?, a narrative history of the making of the myth of the English. Three thousand years of our island history from Boadicea to Blair, from the acclaimed author of ?Restitution?.

In 75,000 words Maureen Duffy covers three thousand years of history to show where the idea of the English has come from. The myth begins with the idea that the English were the original inhabitants of this island, that the ?real? natives of Britain are the English and anyone else is somehow a foreigner. The idea is captured by G K Chesterton in his popular poem of 1912 which begins ?Before the Romans came to Rye or out to Severn strode/The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road?.

The first British heroes Boadicea and Caractacus ruled parts of an island that was divided into princedoms with names that sound like modern European football teams: the Iceni, Brigantes, Coritani and Catuvellauni. Boadicea was one of the many charismatic female leaders of the time. Tacitus, the Roman historian wrote that ?the Britons make no distinction of sex in their appointment of commanders?. Not much evidence of the myth of the English rose here. Even in 1500 an anonymous Italian visitor described the English women as ?very violent in their passion?.

The myth of the English woman is just one of the many threads in this fascinating book which explores the political, religious, environmental and physical influences that have arrived at the myth that is England. The Norman takeover; how the English became upper class and oppressed the rest of Britain; England becomes the Church of England; the contribution of Shakespeare to the myth; the Garden of England; the identification of class in dialect; the faking of the English working class, the British Bulldog ? all are elements of the myth.

As Britain debates its future in Europe, this book ? which shows how we have always been continentals ? could hardly be more timely.

Rezension: Maybe it's Millennial angst, but there seems to be a new-found pre-occupation to determine the meaning of Englishness. Maureen Duffy's England is the latest contender in the ring and knocks spots off Jeremy Paxman's more populist The English. Whereas Paxman takes the notion of Englishness as a given, Duffy questions the very notion. She points out that the knee-jerk tabloid beliefs of keeping England for the English are based on the utterly false premise that the English were the original inhabitants of the British Isles. Almost nothing is known of England's earliest residents, save that at some stage they moved from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age and gradually began to domesticate the land. Where these first inhabitants actually came from is anybody's guess. By the time the Romans invaded, the locals were firmly divided into separate princedoms, such as the Iceni, the Catuvellauni and the Brigantes--none of whom identified themselves as having a common identity. Following the collapse of the Roman Empire, England was invaded by Danes, Celts, Picts and the Angles, who only appear on the scene in the 5th century AD at the request of the British ruler, Vortigern, to help dispense with the Picts. And where did the Angles come from? Germany.

So the essence of what Englishness has come to symbolise in the 20th century is largely the creation of the myths it has invented for itself along the way. These myths reemerge at times of national emergency. Englishness seems never to have more appeal than when the country is under threat. Sometimes the threat is real, such as during the two world wars, but even during the Falklands crisis, when almost no one in the country was at the slightest risk of anything, patriotic fervour ruled the airwaves. And it is no coincidence, as Duffy points out, that the appeal to Englishness is being wheeled out in the European debate. Move the battleground to Englishness and the rational debate is over. It is to Duffy's credit that she manages to buck the trend and combine the two. --John Crace

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