Ian Buruma’s first class examination of Continental views of the English and their legal and political systems shows just how much love and loathing have come seething across the Channel over the centuries. Combining his own multi-cultural family history with a broader view of the European view of the English, Ian Buruma provides an absorbing history of how our country has been perceived and influenced the Continent for good and bad.
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With its distinctive history of civil liberties and the delicate balance between social order and the free pursuit of self-interest, England has always fascinated its continental neighbours. Buruma examines the history of ideas of Englishness and what Europeans have admired (or loathed) in England across the centuries. Voltaire wondered why British laws could not be transplanted into France, or even to Serbia; Karl Marx thought the English were too stupid to start a revolution; Goethe worshipped Shakespeare; and, the Kaiser was convinced that Britain was run by Jews. Combining the stories of European Anglophiles and Anglophobes with memories of his own Anglo-Dutch-German-Jewish family, this utterly original book illuminates the relationship between Britain and Europe, revealing how Englishness - and others' views of it - have shaped modern European history.
'This delightful, witty and learned study is an exploration of the extraordinary fantasies, misperceptions and ill-judged adoration which have marked the continental view of England over the past two centuries.'
'Emblematic of the wonderful misunderstandings which have historically been at the heart of a certain sort of Anglomania... Political... cultural... sartorial and... eccentric... Buruma has a wonderfully sharp yet sympathetic eye.'
'Ideas fly from it like wasps from a kicked nest.'
'Fascinating... A quirky but deeply thoughtful exploration of the problems of identity, assimilation and belonging... A marvellously stimulating, idea-packed book.'
Publication date: 01/06/2010
Publisher: Atlantic Books
|Publication date:||1st June 2010|
|Genres:||eBook Favourites, The Real World,|
Ian Buruma is currently Luce Professor at Bard College, New York. His previous books include Voltaire’s Coconuts, The Missionary and the Libertine, The Wages of Guilt, Inventing Japan, God’s Dust and Bad Elements, Occidentalism (Atlantic 2004) and Murder in Amsterdam (Atlantic 2006). Author photo © Stefan HeijendaelMore About Ian Buruma