Across the Pond: An Englishman's View of America

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Overview

In this pithy, warmhearted, and very funny book, Eagleton melds a good old-fashioned roast with genuine admiration for his neighbors "across the pond."
Americans have long been fascinated with the oddness of the British, but the English, says literary critic Terry Eagleton, find their transatlantic neighbors just as strange. Only an alien race would admiringly refer to a colleague as “aggressive,” use superlatives to describe everything from one’s pet dog to one’s rock ...
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Across the Pond: An Englishman's View of Ameica

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Overview

In this pithy, warmhearted, and very funny book, Eagleton melds a good old-fashioned roast with genuine admiration for his neighbors "across the pond."
Americans have long been fascinated with the oddness of the British, but the English, says literary critic Terry Eagleton, find their transatlantic neighbors just as strange. Only an alien race would admiringly refer to a colleague as “aggressive,” use superlatives to describe everything from one’s pet dog to one’s rock collection, or speak frequently of being “empowered.” Why, asks Eagleton, must we broadcast our children’s school grades with bumper stickers announcing “My Child Made the Honor Roll”? Why don’t we appreciate the indispensability of the teapot? And why must we remain so irritatingly optimistic, even when all signs point to failure?
On his quirky journey through the language, geography, and national character of the United States, Eagleton proves to be at once an informal and utterly idiosyncratic guide to our peculiar race. He answers the questions his compatriots have always had but (being British) dare not ask, like why Americans willingly rise at the crack of dawn, even on Sundays, or why we publicly chastise cigarette smokers as if we’re all spokespeople for the surgeon general.In this pithy, warmhearted, and very funny book, Eagleton melds a good old-fashioned roast with genuine admiration for his neighbors “across the pond.”
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Editorial Reviews

Henry Hitchings
“Terry Eagleton has a gift for the kind of generalizations that at first appear outrageous but seem, on reflection, annoyingly perceptive. Were I one of the expressive Americans he describes, I’d call this book awesome; as a constipated Brit, I’m inclined to say that it is not at all bad.”
Michael Washburn - Boston Globe
“Incisive and honest… Eagleton’s contribution to the persistent subgenre of Toquevillian analysis: the European curmudgeon’s critical, ultimately appreciative and, in Eagleton’s case, loving guide to the wacky Yanks and their nation.”
Geoff Nicholson - Los Angeles Review of Books
“[Eagleton is] clearly a writer who enjoys being a provocateur: there’s something to argue with on pretty much every page of Across the Pond, and usually something downright hilarious, too. Great stuff…Terry Eagleton is a funny man.”
David Wolf - The New Republic
“His mode is that of a jocular anthropologist, pint in hand, chattily offering up his opinions.”
Kirkus Reviews
An occasionally illuminating book, but more often an attempt to pass clichés and stereotypes as insight, by a prolific academic whose stabs at humor might play better in his native England. In case his American readers might otherwise take offense, Eagleton (The Event of Literature, 2012, etc.) explains, "As befits a puritan race, Americans tend to make a sharper distinction between what is serious and what is not. There is sometimes more need of a shift in tone to signal that what you are saying is meant to be frivolous, light-hearted or just plain silly." So, when he proceeds to observe that "there is, to be sure, a lot of obesity elsewhere on the planet, but nobody is as mind-warpingly, transcendentally enormous as an enormous American," some readers may decide that he's just being lighthearted, while others could suggest that he is belaboring the obvious. Eagleton does so throughout a short book that seems longer, one that suggests to the few who haven't reached such conclusions on their own that there are strains of hypocrisy and foolish jingoism underlying the country's celebration of all-American ideals and values. To Europeans, he writes, "Suggesting that the Almighty has a special affection for your nation would sound as absurd as claiming that he has a special affection for gummy bears." More often, the author sets his sights lower than the heavens, such as the differences in American and English diction: "The British use the rather beautiful word ‘children' far more often than Americans do, who tend to prefer the ugly, demeaning monosyllable ‘kids.' It is surprising that a nation so scrupulous about political correctness should be content to regard its offspring as small smelly goats." Oh, and "an Englishman who gets through twenty fags a day is not necessarily a promiscuous homosexual." Now living in Dublin, the professor also has plenty to say about the Irish. Meaner would have been funnier; fresher could have been more insightful.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393088984
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/24/2013
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 612,918
  • Product dimensions: 13.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Terry Eagleton was born in Manchester, England. The author of more than forty books, including the seminal Literary Theory: An Introduction, he has taught at Oxford, Cambridge, and the University of Manchester. He resides in Dublin, Ireland, with his wife and children.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2013

    Tells it like it is -- the Brits and Americans pretend to look d

    Tells it like it is -- the Brits and Americans pretend to look down on each other, but secretly admire and respect the other. Hilariously funny in spots, but lots of good, honest respect for each other's values and ideals. Neither can deny the strong relationship (begun when the first Pilgrims landed on the east coast more than 300 years ago). I highly recommend.

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