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Dazed and Confused

Paul Laity: Are the English human?

28 November 2002
Patriots: National Identity in Britain 1940-2000 
by Richard Weight.
Macmillan, 866 pp., £25, May 2002, 0 333 73462 9
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Pariah: Misfortunes of the British Kingdom 
by Tom Nairn.
Verso, 176 pp., £13, September 2002, 1 85984 657 2
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Identity of England 
by Robert Colls.
Oxford, 422 pp., £25, October 2002, 0 19 924519 3
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Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, October 2002, 1 85619 716 6
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... conditions which have now disappeared. We have had the woe-is-England vapourings of Simon Heffer and the rushed observations of Andrew Marr. An academic industry has flourished. Now both Weight and RobertColls have written requiems for the old Britishness which are also ruminations on a new, more democratic England. Britannia, for so long a proud Amazon, armoured and helmeted, repulsing European foes ...

English Butter

David Trotter

9 October 1986
Englishness: Politics and Culture 1880-1920 
edited by Robert Colls and Philip Dodd.
Croom Helm, 378 pp., £25, June 1986, 0 7099 0849 0
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The Character Factory: Baden-Powell and the Origins of the Boy Scout Movement 
by Michael Rosenthal.
Collins, 335 pp., £15, August 1986, 0 00 217604 1
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Oxford and Empire: The Last Lost Cause? 
by Richard Symonds.
Macmillan, 366 pp., £29.50, July 1986, 0 333 40206 5
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... Widdowson enlist Modernism as an opponent of the dominant ideology of Englishness. Their argument is by no means facile, but it does encourage some curious distortions. We are told, for example, that Robert Bridges’s editing of the proto-Modernist poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins accommodated their dangerous excess to a ‘prevailing orthodoxy’, and ‘muffled’ their ‘critique of industrialisation ...

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