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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Burke for berks, 20 July 2013
This review is from: The Return of England in English Literature (Hardcover)
Reading Gardiner is like watching a train wreck in slow motion- you can't drag your eyes away and though you can't actually see the mangled bodies of the victims- well, in this case, the mangled brains of Prof. Gardiner's students- you can't help feeling a sort of anticipatory schadenfreude- serves the blighters right for paying good money for tickets on a Credentialist Academy's gravy-train while actual working class intellectuals like you and me have to hitch-hike.
In this and other books, Gardiner is seeking to make himself relevant to the ongoing debate about English Nationality in the context of Scottish devolution. His method of getting cited in scholarly work is to quickly cobble together a few of the more facile and utterly foolish academic availability cascades of the last few decades and, by studiously avoiding engagement with either Continental or American literary theory, gain a sort of 'obligatory passage point status' for his own ignorant and illiterate scribblings as an emic reflection or unintentional mimesis of the unutterable provincialism and paucity of thought characteristic of feuilletonist hysteria in this regard.
Gardiner uses the term 'English literature' for 'the carrier of the needs of the British State'. Other states have their needs catered for by things like Armies and Judiciaries and Legislatures but for some reason Britain 'did not have a backbone' and so had to make 'English Literature' its exoskeleton. How did the this spineless British state come to exist? Well, apparently it had something to do with them Evil Rich People who have money and money is bad okay? and like the State prints money? And like it's been doing so for some time? And it's like a big conspiracy and Defoe knew about it? And then there was this guy called Burke and he was very very bad coz he didn't like the French Revolution okay? And he invented the British Constitution except it wasn't a Constitution because Britian doesn't really exist it's just a mirage produced by Money which is totally evil and...urm... well apparently Burke is considered a good literary stylist okay? So what he writes is like English Literature? And so like that means that Money, which is very evil, invented the British State but it didn't have a backbone so it invented Burke so he could invent a British Constitution which is unwritten except it isn't because English Literature suddenly came into existence and this unwritten constitution does too exist in like English Literature? And that's not cool at all coz like English Literature is actually British? So it's like colonizing and racially abusing and gender discriminating and Environmentally degrading the English Nation by being all like Managerial? And like saying, the Health Service belongs to the Nation?- that's why they call it a National Health Service, yeah?- which is like totally evil coz it denies Popular Sovereignty?
Gardiner's nutty notions aren't unprecedented they are just Monty Python bizarre. I recall people like Gauri Vishvanathan spouting this sort of nonsense- i.e. the notion that Eng Lit as an academic subject was specially invented as a 'mask of Conquest'- but that was in connection with India where it made sense to attack Eng Lit because English was only spoken by a small comprador elite. However, the same isn't true of England. The truth is if G.K Chesterton had accepted a Professorship of Eng Lit when he was starting out then something like Gardiner's case would be, in his terminology, 'English Literature' as opposed to English writing in England. The very fact that Chesterton, who hadn't completed a degree, was offered a Professorship at a young age shows that no distinction existed of the type he claims. Some Professors- Tolkien, Lewis- combined teaching Eng Lit with producing it and many poets and writers- Graves, Burgess- could easily have been Professors.
It's pointless to criticize such a worthless book. I suppose what gets me is Gardiner's idiotic take on Burke. In the same way that Coke was more Jeffersonian than Blackstone, so too was Burke more Radical- in the context of devolution I might mention the seed of optimal currency theory in his writing- than Macaulay Bagehot Acton et al understood him to be.
Professors of English Literature can be pardoned for not knowing Law, Econ, History etc. But they do need to be able to read. Or, if that is too much to ask, at least they should have the decency not to write.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Nov 2015, 19:30:25 GMT
Reader says:
Yes, Professors need to be able to read; but yes, reviewers need to be able to write.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Nov 2015, 20:03:10 GMT
Vivek Iyer says:
A literary review may require literary ability. This is more of a consumer forum where people say why they liked or disliked a product.
On the evidence of the sample presented, you are bad at writing but this does not mean your experience of reading the book is utterly unworthy of record.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Nov 2015, 20:01:48 GMT
Reader says:
Yes it does, with this sort of "product".
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