Visions of England

Roy Strong

Visions of England

What does it mean to be English? For centuries, Englishness was synonymous with Britishness, informed first by the political dominance of the English monarchs over the British Isles — reaching its apogee in the rule of Elizabeth I — and later by the island’s imperial might and expansion. But alongside that tradition, reaching back to medieval times, there has also been a vision of England as the rural arcadia celebrated by painters and poets. While the mythology of empire lingers on in the national psyche, Roy Strong argues that it is the rural tradition — combining aestheticism, pastoralism and patriotism — that offers an answer to the present crisis of English identity. 2.7 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
Visions of England

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre History
Format Hardback
Pages 240
RRP £17.99
Date of Publication July 2011
ISBN 978-1847921604
Publisher Bodley Head
 

What does it mean to be English? For centuries, Englishness was synonymous with Britishness, informed first by the political dominance of the English monarchs over the British Isles — reaching its apogee in the rule of Elizabeth I — and later by the island’s imperial might and expansion. But alongside that tradition, reaching back to medieval times, there has also been a vision of England as the rural arcadia celebrated by painters and poets. While the mythology of empire lingers on in the national psyche, Roy Strong argues that it is the rural tradition — combining aestheticism, pastoralism and patriotism — that offers an answer to the present crisis of English identity.

Reviews

The Financial Times

Robin Lane Fox

It is brief, compelling and essential summer reading. This autumn it ought to be distributed to every post-GCSE history class in the country.

22/07/2011

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The Spectator

Simon Heffer

If one accepts that this book is a guide to finding an English identity for those who have an experience of culture, or who are prepared to acquire that experience, then one should not be too disappointed. That does invite the question, though, about whether the more rarefied being will still be searching for that identity, rather than having found it some time earlier. However, for someone who would like to know what it is to feel identifiably English, Sir Roy provides a useful tour.

06/08/2011

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The Sunday Times

John Carey

A difficulty with his whole enterprise is that it is hard to tell from artistic and literary evidence what idea of nationhood, if any, appealed to English people who were neither artistic nor literary.

10/07/2011

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The Guardian

Terry Eagleton

Most astonishingly of all, Strong sails close to acknowledging that the subject at the heart of his book is all a con. It is an "invented paradise", which glosses over the social inequalities and "appalling depression" of rural England ... What is truly stunning about the book is that none of this in the end is allowed to count against the delusion of England as Arcadia.

01/07/2011

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The Literary Review

Fred Inglis

He believes, as I do myself, that some such homely vision binds together the mixed and multicultural English people ... One wants therefore to heap blessings on Strong’s head. The trouble is that in a book in which the whole point and tremulous purpose is the expression on behalf of himself and others of ardent feeling for a familiar landscape, there is only dead prose, lifeless invocation, and great poetry suffocated by its airless context.

01/08/2011

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