On Living in an Old Country: The National Past in Contemporary Britain

On Living in an Old Country: The National Past in Contemporary Britain

by Patrick Wright


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The hulk of Henry VIII's flagship is raised from the seabed in an operation that captures the mind of the nation. An elderly lady whose ancient house is scheduled for demolition dismantles it, piece by piece, and moves it across the country. On Living in an Old Country probes such apparently fleeting and disconnected events in order to reveal how history lives on, not just in the specialist knowledge of historians, archaeologists and curators, but as a tangible presence permeating everyday life and shaping our sense of identity. It investigates the rise of "heritage" as expressed in literature, advertising, and political rhetoric as well as in conservation campaigns and urban development schemes, and it explores the relations between the idea of an imperilled national identity and the transformation of British society introduced by Margaret Thatcher. First published in 1985, this updated edition includes an extensive new preface and interview material reflecting on the ongoing debate about the heritage industry which the book helped to kick-start.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780860918332
Publisher: Verso Books
Publication date: 06/17/1986
Pages: 262
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Patrick Wright is the author of a number of highly acclaimed best-selling history books, including The Village that Died for England, Tank (described by Simon Schama as "a tour de force"), and Iron Curtain (which John le Carre called "a work of wit, style and waggish erudition").

Table of Contents

Preface to the Oxford University Press edition: Heritage and the Place of Criticism
1. Introduction: Everyday Life, Nostalgia and the National Past
2. Trafficking in History
3. Coming Back to the Shores of Albion: The Secret England of Mary Butts (1890-1937)
4. A Blue Plaque for the Labour Movement? Some Political Meanings of the National Past
5. Falling Back Together in the Nineteen Eighties: The Continuing Voyage of the Mary Rose
6. Moving House in a Welfare State
7. The Ghosting of the Inner City
Afterword: Everyday Life and the Aura of the Modern Past
Appendix: Sneering at the Theme Parks: an Encounter with the Heritage Industry

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