Landscape and Englishness

David Matless

Timothy Mowl | Published in 31 Aug 1999

At the start of this entertaining, but very disturbing, book David Matless assumes that the upper class, who had always had a clear sense of national identity, virtually killed itself off in the 1914-18 war, leaving a void where a self-concept, which could be described as patriotism, should have existed. The post-war population, being traumatised, cynical and under-educated, was left vulnerable to any confident idealist with a new theory of what England could and should be like. In reaction to Marxism, it was tacitly accepted that the land itself rather than society was to be the core to which we could all rally. In practice this meant geography taking over the role that history had played previously, and as history can be selective, so can geography. Everyone could pick their own England and relate to it as an organic entity that easily developed xenophobia and fascist undertones.

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