The (De-)Construction of Englishness and the Invention of National History in Julian Barnes' England, England (1998)


Term Paper, 2004

11 Pages, Grade: 1


Excerpt

Page 3


1. Introduction

Numerous contemporary British novels display an almost obsessive concern with the notion of Englishness. Hence, they focus on the myths, traditions and attitudes that are regarded as typically English. This is a subject which is also of central interest to recent literary criticism and cultural history at large. Among the many novels that deal with a literary exploration of England’s past, its cultural memory, and its national identity are such well-known works as John Fowles’ Daniel Martin (1977), Jonathan Raban’s travelogue Coasting (1986), Andrew Sinclair’s “Albion triptych”, including his novels Gog (1967), Magog (1972) and King Ludd (1988), Adam Thorpe’s Ulverton (1992), Peter Ackroyd’s English Music (1992) and Antonia S. Byatt’s and Graham Swift’s novels. These works can be regarded as a kind of echo-chamber of England’s cultural history, for they display “deliberate Englishness”. 1

With its interest in Englishness, the nature of historical truth, and the blurring of boundaries between the authentic and the imitation, Julian Barnes’ novel England, England (1998), which was short-listed for the Booker prize in 1998, shares important concerns with many contemporary British novels. Like a host of other novels published after the 1960s, England, England focuses on the question of how much we can ever know about the past. Hence, this novel shows all the features characteristic of postmodernist historiographic metafiction. That is to say, like other historiographic metafictions, England, England is “both intensely selfreflexive and yet paradoxically also lay[s] claim to historical events and personages”. 2 What is more, Barnes’ novel also reflects the feature which has been the major focus of attention in most of the critical work on postmodernism, i.e. a self-conscious assessment of the status and function of narrative in literature, history, and theory: “its theoretical self-awareness of history and fiction as human constructs (historiographic metafiction) is made the grounds for its rethinking and reworking of the forms and contents of the past”. 3

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Excerpt out of 11 pages

Details

Title
The (De-)Construction of Englishness and the Invention of National History in Julian Barnes' England, England (1998)
College
University of Hamburg
Grade
1
Author
Year
2004
Pages
11
Catalog Number
V186201
ISBN (eBook)
9783869438559
ISBN (Book)
9783656992837
File size
625 KB
Language
English
Tags
construction, englishness, invention, national, history, julian, barnes, england
Quote paper
Sirinya Pakditawan (Author), 2004, The (De-)Construction of Englishness and the Invention of National History in Julian Barnes' England, England (1998), Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/186201

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