Visions of England: Or Why We Still Dream of a Place in the Country (UK Edition)

October 31, 2020
Visions of England: Or Why We Still Dream of a Place in the Country (UK Edition)

A major contribution to the debate about English identity thatlocates the roots of Englishness in the cultural imagination.What does it mean to be English?For centuries, Englishness was synonymous with Britishness,informed first by the political dominance of the English monarchsover the British isles -- reaching its apogee in the rule ofElizabeth I -- and later by the island's imperial might andexpansion. But alongside that tradition, reaching back to medievaltimes, there has also been a vision of England as the rural arcadiacelebrated by painters and poets. While the mythology of empirelingers on in the national psyche, Roy Strong argues that it is therural tradition -- combing aestheticism, pastoralism and patriotism--that offers an answer to the present crisis of Englishidentity.National identity essentially resides in the mind: evolving overtime it is inevitably selective in how it epitomizes the ideals andaspirations of a people. In this searching and deeply passionatebook, Roy Strong reveals an iconography of England rooted in thecultural imagination. Rather than simply depicting reality, art andliterature have often ennobled -- and immortalised -- reality in away that has directly affected how we see ourselves. Today we viewSuffolk through the eyes of Constable, the Lake District comes tolife in the poetry of Wordsworth, and the country house seems toemerge from the novels of Evelyn Waugh.Free from nationalism, chauvinism and political bias, Roy Strongoffers a vision of England that is inclusive and relevant foreverybody living in the country today -- an appreciation of thebeauty of the English countryside, a love of nature and gardening,and a celebration of the dramas of Shakespeare, the paintings ofTurner and the music of Elgar.