Welcome to Everytown : A Journey into the English Mind Paperback
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 our national character, what might be called the nation's philosophy has remained largely unexamined.
Until now. Philosopher Julian Baggini pinpointed postcode S66 on the outskirts of Rotherham, as England in microcosm - an 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.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 256 pages, Illustrations, ports.
- Publisher: Granta Books
- Publication Date: 03/03/2008
- Category: Cultural studies
- ISBN: 9781862079984
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Review by Quickpint
I shall let the author speak for himself: "Attmpting to sum up the national philosophy is in many ways an absurdly ambitious project. I hope to have got a lot right, but I know I will have got many things wrong... In some ways, I don't much care." And: "Like it or not, my study would say as much about me, and those like me, as it would about the English mind I was investigating." When Baggini says "like me" he means a full member of Britain's privileged middles classes. In that sense, this is only half a book: while it aspires to cpature "the English philosophy" it really is an examination of the working classes by a middle class outsider. We could sorely do with a similar study in reverse, to be honest. But there are some genuine insights in this book, particularly in the opening chapters. It badly loses its way after that, and becomes sporadically frustrating, particularly in Baggini's brief treatment of "mainstream culture", which seems rushed, patronising, and misses several key points - particularly the difference between corporate or massed-produced "culture" and "real" authentic or indigenous culture.