Welcome to Everytown: A Journey into the English Mindby Julian Baggini
What do the English think? Every country has a dominant set of beliefs and attitudes concerning everything from how to live a good life, how we should organize society, and the roles of the sexes. Yet despite many attempts to define their national character, what might be called England's national philosophy has remained largely unexamineduntil now.
What do the English think? Every country has a dominant set of beliefs and attitudes concerning everything from how to live a good life, how we should organize society, and the roles of the sexes. Yet despite many attempts to define their national character, what might be called England's national philosophy has remained largely unexamineduntil now. Philosopher Julian Baggini pinpointed an area on the outskirts of Rotherham as England in microcosman area which reflected most accurately the full range of the nation's inhabitants, its most typical mix of urban and rural, old and young, married and single. He then spent six months living there, immersing himself in this typical English Everytown, in order to get to know the mind of a people. It sees the world as full of patterns and order, a view manifest in its enjoyment of gambling. It has a functional, puritanical streak, evident in its notoriously bad cuisine. In the English mind, men should be men and women should be women (but it's not sure what children should be). Baggini's account of the English is both a portrait of its people and a personal story about being an alien in your own land. Sympathetic but critical, serious yet witty, Welcome to Everytown shows a country in which the familiar becomes strange, and the strange familiar.
Two new books on modern English culture offer starkly different perspectives. Lyall, an American journalist for the New York Times who moved to London more than a decade ago, provides an outsider's view, offering a mixture of first- and secondhand anecdotes along with British history and literature. Not a guide for how to act or what to do to fit in, this book is a view of society that the usually shy British may find exceedingly revealing. But Lyall's perspective will aid an outsider's understanding of the culture of modern Britain. Some of the vignettes may make readers unfamiliar with British culture scratch their heads in wonder or confusion at this highly readable book covering topics from Parliament, food, dental care, and cricket to sex, alcohol abuse, and the love of eccentricity and celebrity. Recommended for anyone wanting an intelligent and amusing American perspective on the world of the British.
English philosopher Baggini (Atheism: A Very Short Introduction; editor, The Philosophers' Magazine) writes about his six-month experiment living the life of the average Britisher. In an attempt to uncover the philosophy and values of his country, he moves to the town of Rotherham, South Yorkshire, which he identified as statistically average for England, and experiences life through activities determined most "average" for his compatriots. Using his experiences and social statistics, Baggini writes about such issues as racism, sexism, politics, gambling, food, and aesthetics. He presents a working-class culture based in conservative communitarianism that favors convenience. Both books are biased-Lyall from an American viewpoint and Baggini from anEnglish one-and each has its own audience. Lyall's book will fit easily into any travel/culture section in the United States; Baggini's will appeal primarily to those looking for a silver lining in modern English life and is recommended only for libraries with a British or devotedly Anglophile audience. [See The Anglo Files in Prepub Alert, LJ4/1/08.]
- Granta UK
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- 5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.90(d)
Meet the Author
Julian Baggini is the editor and co-founder of The Philosophers' Magazine. He writes regularly for the Guardian, Independent and Independent on Sunday, Prospect, and the TES, and has appeared on Nightwaves and In Our Time. He is the author of several books on philosophy, including Atheism: A Very Short Introduction and Making Sense: Philosophy Behind the Headlines.
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