What kind of people are 'the English' - what are the characteristic traits and behaviour that distinguish them from other people? This highly original and wide-ranging book traces the surprisingly varied history of ideas amongst the English about their own 'national character' over the past two centuries.
Two hundred years ago, the very idea of a 'national character' was novel and not very respectable. In our own time, when we like to think of ourselves as unique individuals, it's hard again to think of a 'national character' that binds us into a national unit. But in between, as Britain became a democracy, 'national character' became part of the national common sense, in depictions of 'John Bull' and his twentieth-century successor, the 'Little Man', and in a set of stereotypes about English traits, follies and foibles. Far from being shy of talking about themselves, the English have produced over the past two hundred years a vast outpouring of material on what it means to be English - material on which this book draws: lectures, sermons, political speeches, journalism, popular and scholarly books, poems and novels and films, satires and cartoons and caricatures, as well as the most up-to-the minute social science and public opinion research.
In this comprehensive, lucidly argued account of the history of thinking about the English national character, one of the leading historians of modern Britain challenges long-held assumptions and familiar stereotypes and offers an entirely new perspective on what it means to think of oneself as being English.
Publisher: Yale University Press
Number of pages: 360
Weight: 554 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 20 mm