Our Englishness Paperback – 1 Dec 2000
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This work features contributions from seven writers who are positive about Englishness and their English identity. They argue for the existence of an English nation defined in terms of history, culture and community. They reject the "civic-society" and "civic nationalism" approach that current ideological orthodoxy demands.
Top Customer Reviews
Many people confuse "British" identity with nationhood in our country. Being British is "not a national identity but a civic identity". This confusion has, in my view, been cultivated over the years for State purposes. It has encouraged people to identify with the aims of the State and establishment. If you start to understand that the State does not merely serve and reflect the interests of the people and nation you become aware of the possibility of conflict between the two - Nation against State.
Of course English people are becoming more aware of identity questions. They are challenged without by the growth in power of international economic and political structures which question even a British identity and from within by Welsh and Scottish disaffection with the Union. I fear that at present the identity created in response will be bitter, twisted and reactionary. It need not be like this and it is people like the contributors to this work who may make a difference to the outcome.
I would have liked to see more debate within the book with some people questioning whether the renewal of English identity was practical or desirable. I suspect, however, that the publishers felt that there was no shortage of that type of work available!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Editor Tony Linsell correctly defines "Englishness" as a people rather than place. This puts him at odds with the politically correct - which adds to the appeal of the book. It also provides the real focus of this book - English people, and the qualities that make them English.
The highlight of the book for me was Kathleen Herbert's short story Alone At Monster-Gate, a story describing events behind the earliest manifestation of English nationalism in the Cimbric peninsula of southern Denmark around the year 400AD.
I enjoyed the juxtaposition of English Orthodox Fr. Andrew Phillips (The Resurrection of England) with modern-day Anglo-Saxon heathen Garman Lord (On Being English In America). The former sees the rise of Englishness as springing from the nation-building and culture-building in the 8th-century by the Christian king Alfred The Great; the latter seeks to reclaim the past through English tribalism and the pre-Christian values innate in the English folk-soul (exemplified in Old English literature such as Beowulf).
The book has too broad a focus to make it suitable for anyone other than people with an interest in their own English identity. It covers nationalism, political theory, history, culture, literature, spirituality, and language - but does not focus on any of these elements - and certainly not with academic rigor. It is best described as a collection of intensely personal ruminations about what it means to be English today.
Socrates said "The unexamined life is not worth living." Sadly in today's rootless, multi-cultural, democratic states like Great Britain and America, intense self-examination leads to loneliness and soul-sickness. If you are English and lonely, this book may help you find your way home.
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