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The finest or the damndest country in the world?” The British left and America in the 1930s

Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Publication Date
  • Da Great Britain
  • E151 United States (General)
  • Ja Political Science (General)
  • Musicology
  • Political Science


No other region of the world has exerted such a fascination for the British, and for such a long time, as the United States of America. From the first explorations and settlements in the seventeenth century, through the heyday of the first British empire in the Americas in the eighteenth century and the fundamental re-conceptualisation of America following independence, to the present day American global hegemony a vast variety of Britons have looked across the Atlantic and pondered on American life, culture, politics and attitudes. In this volume, a number of scholars from a variety of different disciplines (History, English, Theatre Studies, Music and History of Art) explore the ways in which Britons have imagined America. They show how some visited America themselves, while others relied on second-hand reports, but all engaged with America on various levels, often imagining and re-imagining it through different time-periods. The 'reality' of American life, or of American politics was one issue, as were other factors including American identity, culture, music and theatre, all of which were filtered through a shifting gaze ranging from admiration to outright hostility Included are essays on the printed representations of early Virginia, the view of British consuls living in the slave South, the interpretations of diverse writers such as Dickens, Auden, Orwell and Amis, and on the lyrics and other public pronouncements of the band Radiohead. The time frame runs from the seventeenth to the twenty-first century, and should enable the reader the see how British perceptions and understandings of America have evolved over those 400 years. Ultimately, the complexity and ambiguity of British imaginings of America emerges as the central theme of the book.

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