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Tom Shippey, 26 July 1990

England and Englishness: Ideas of Nationhood in English Poetry, 1688-1900 
by John Lucas.
Hogarth, 227 pp., £18, February 1990, 0 7012 0892 9
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The Englishman’s England: Taste, Travel and the Rise of Tourism 
by Ian Ousby.
Cambridge, 244 pp., £45, February 1990, 0 521 37374 3
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Fleeting Things: English Poets and Poems, 1616-1660 
by Gerald Hammond.
Harvard, 394 pp., £24.95, March 1990, 0 674 30625 2
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... Of all nations’, writes Ian Ousby, ‘we’, the English, have ‘perhaps the most strongly defined sense of national identity – so developed and so stylised, in fact, that we are frequently conscious of it as a burden or restraint’. I wonder what he can possibly mean by that. The most anomalous thing about England in comparison with all other European nations (of course it isn’t a nation, but even in comparison with Scotland and Wales) is that it doesn’t have the formal marks of national identity acquired even by Iceland or Finland, Luxembourg or Albania ...

Past Masters

Raymond Williams, 25 June 1987

Joachim of Fiore and the Myth of the Eternal Evangel in the 19th Century 
by Marjorie Reeves and Warwick Gould.
Oxford, 365 pp., £35, March 1987, 0 19 826672 3
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Beauty and Belief: Aesthetics and Religion in Victorian Literature 
by Hilary Fraser.
Cambridge, 287 pp., £25, January 1987, 0 521 30767 8
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The Correspondence of John Ruskin and Charles Eliot Norton 
edited by John Bradley and Ian Ousby.
Cambridge, 537 pp., £45, April 1987, 0 521 32091 7
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... What can we possibly say of the claim that ‘the first great revolutionary movements in Europe’ were all ‘more or less imbued with the ideas of Joachim of Fiore’? Or, if ‘more or less’ offers an escape clause, what can we say of another claim: that ‘Joachim created the aggregate of symbols which govern the self-interpretation of modern political society to this day’? Or that ‘it is hardly too much to claim that the vague and powerful assumptions we all make about historical transition have their roots in Joachism’? ‘Aggregate of symbols’, ‘vague and powerful assumptions’, ‘more or less imbued’: whatever the actual history, these phrases bear the mark of very recent times; all were written, in fact, within the last twenty years ...

Love and Crime

Theodore Zeldin, 6 March 1980

Recollections and Reflections of a Country Policeman 
by W.C. May.
A.H. Stockwell (Ilfracombe), 342 pp., £6.60, July 1979, 0 7223 1199 0
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The Police in Society 
by Ben Whitaker.
Eyre Methuen, 351 pp., £6.95, March 1979, 9780413342003
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... with the stupid official police. By putting reality and the novelist’s fantasy side by side, Ian Ousby, in Bloodhounds of Heaven: The Detective in English Fiction from Godwin to Doyle, shows how much more the public hoped for from its police.2 Sir Robert Peel had insisted that a policeman should have neither ‘the rank, habits or station of a ...

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