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The Enchanted Glass: Britain and Its Monarchy

Overview

Tom Nairn refuses to treat the Royal Family as a jokey left-over from feudalism or a mere tourist attraction. Instead, he sees Monarchy as at once apex and essence of the British State, for the Anglo-British evolved a pseudo-modern national identity around the Crown and its constitutional framework. From such archaism there has sprung an intense popular nationalism and neo-tribal loyalty. Nairn describes, with 'a mixture of amusement and suppressed fury', the everyday symptoms of this in pungent prose, and argues...
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Overview

Tom Nairn refuses to treat the Royal Family as a jokey left-over from feudalism or a mere tourist attraction. Instead, he sees Monarchy as at once apex and essence of the British State, for the Anglo-British evolved a pseudo-modern national identity around the Crown and its constitutional framework. From such archaism there has sprung an intense popular nationalism and neo-tribal loyalty. Nairn describes, with 'a mixture of amusement and suppressed fury', the everyday symptoms of this in pungent prose, and argues that any new style of Republicanism has to take the measure of this formidable opponent and break not just with Royalty alone but equally with 'the British way' - the customs prescribed by a fossilized Constitution and an out-dated national identity. The Enchanted Glass is a magnificent work of historical reflection and political polemic, that has already stirred the thinking of the left and the right.
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Editorial Reviews

Sunday Times
“An ambitious and ruthless dissection of the most down-market comic opera of our age.”
The Observer
“Dazzling, cliché-nailing ... The first serious study for more than a hundred years to take a coldly analytical look at this most emotion-charged part of our heritage, it reflects a growing sense of the peculiarity of it all.”
From the Publisher
“A long and brilliant meditation on the nature of the British state, its identity and national culture ... one of the most powerful and original pieces of writing I have ever read on the subject.”—London Review of Books

“An ambitious and ruthless dissection of the most down-market comic opera of our age.”—Sunday Times

“Dazzling, cliche?-nailing ... The first serious study for more than a hundred years to take a coldly analytical look at this most emotion-charged part of our heritage, it reflects a growing sense of the peculiarity of it all.”—The Observer

London Review of Books
“A long and brilliant meditation on the nature of the British state, its identity and national culture ... one of the most powerful and original pieces of writing I have ever read on the subject.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781844677757
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 11/7/2011
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 456
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Nairn's many books include The Break-up of Britain, Faces of Nationalism, After Britain, and The Enchanted Glass. He writes for, among others, New Left Review and the London Review of Books.

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Table of Contents

Foreword to the 2011 Edition vii

Foreword to the 1994 Edition xvii

Introduction 9

1 The Mystery

A People's Monarchy 19

Are We All Mad? 23

Mystic Significance of a Small Bald Patch 25

Royalty and Fashion 29

Royalty Versus Celebrity 34

In the Doll's House: Crawfie Lives 36

What Are They Really Like? 43

Taboo-supported Niceness 46

Taboo and Idiot-Theory 50

Royalty and Civilization: the Mystery Deepens 55

Respectable and Popular Monarchy 59

Queenspeak 62

The Royal Touch 71

Regal Walkabout 74

Imponderable Insipidities 80

Tea with the Queen 84

Through the Wrong End of the Telescope: Ukania 88

2 The Nation

A Special Explanation 101

Digression on Family Pets 103

'Disavowal' 111

Sociology of Grovelling, Part 1 115

Sociology of Grovelling, Part 2 120

Enchantment in Retrospect 124

Monarchy and Nationalism 127

The Enchanted Glass

English Nationality 131

Leviathan and Later 137

Kings at Nightfall 142

'Parliamentary Sovereignty' 144

The Modern Venice 151

The Containment of Modernity 156

The Modernization of George III 163

Folklore from Above 174

The Royal Etiquette-lesson 189

Playing the Royal Game 197

The Heart of Archaism 203

3 The Glamour of Backwardness

Bustard Identity 213

Nationalism in Satin Breeches 216

A So-Called English Prince 222

All Manner of Folk 226

The Nerves of Fetishism 234 The Outward-looking and the Backward-looking 246

The Royal Bomb: Implosions of Greatness 251 'Class': the Totem-Shadow 260

The Monarchy of Letters 269

Speech and Silence of the Crown: Spectrogram of Greatness 277

Kitsch Identity: Sinuosity of the Truly Royal 291

Estates of the Reaim 298

The Royal Prerogative 315

4 Quiet Republicanism From Bang to Whimper 325

'Getting Rid of It Altogether 331

Pseudo-Feudal Socialism 339

T.S. Eliot and Clap-trap: Fathomable Givenness 345

Bagehot:Dressing up the Mace 356

Chief Malefactor: 'The English Constitution' 360

Sooner Than One Thinks 371

Endless Dream-time? 377

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