Island Stories: Unravelling Britain by Raphael SamuelIsland Stories: Unravelling Britain by Raphael Samuel

Island Stories: Unravelling Britain

byRaphael Samuel

Paperback | May 15, 1999

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A luminous sequel to the highly acclaimed first volume of Theatres of Memory, Island Stories is an engrossing journey of discovery into the multiple meanings of national myths, their anchorage in daily life and their common sense of a people’s destiny. Raphael Samuel reveals the palimpsest of British national histories, offering a searching yet affectionate account of the heroes and villains, legends and foibles, cherished by the “four nations” that inhabit the British Isles. Samuel is interested by the fact that traditions can disappear no less abruptly than they were invented. How is it, he asks, that the Scots have lost interest in a British narrative of which they were once a central protagonist? Why is the celebration of “Britons” thriving today just as its object has become problematic? Island Stories marvelously conveys the mutability of national conceits. Samuel calls as witness a galaxy of authorities—Bede and Gerald of Barri, Macaulay and Stubbs, Shakespeare and Dickens, Lord Reith and Raymond Williams, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Benn—each of whom sought to renew the sense of national identity by means of an acute sense of the past. Island Stories is a luminous study of the way nations use their past to lend meaning to the present and future. This sequel to the widely acclaimed Theatres of Memory is as passionate, unexpected and enjoyable as its predecessor.
Raphael Samuel (1934–1996) was a tutor in History at Ruskin College, Oxford, and a founding editor of History Workshop Journal. His works include Theatres of Memory and Island Stories, also from Verso. For more information about his work, see The Raphael Samuel History Centre and Archive online.Gareth Stedman Jones is a Fellow of King...
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Title:Island Stories: Unravelling BritainFormat:PaperbackDimensions:416 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.85 inPublished:May 15, 1999Publisher:Verso BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1859841902

ISBN - 13:9781859841907

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Reviews

From Our Editors

The British Isles are subject to all sorts of historic interpretation. The late Raphael Samuel - unlike most authors - did not try and assert one version of the past over the other. Rather, with Island Stories, he tries to look into the accounts from the past that account for the present state of history. This is a collection of powerful essays on the conditions that bind the Isles, making for a captivating, intelligent and alternative look at the past.

Editorial Reviews

“The sheer scope and erudition of these pages is stunning ... an imaginative tour de force.”—Terry Eagleton, Guardian“Provocative, original ... a powerful testimony to the unending dialogue between the present and the past that is the essence and excitement of history.”—David Cannadine, Observer“A stunning collection ... humane, optimistic, multi-textured, ever-meandering but always sparkling ... One of the finest and—paradoxically—most quintessentially English historians of our time.”—Ben Pimlott, Independent on Sunday“A magnificent and irreplaceable collection.”—John Gray, New Statesman“A provocative lens into both the remote and the near British past.”—Publishers Weekly“Deeply researched, intelligently argued, lovingly presented, thoroughly excitable and immensely stimulating ... [Samuel is] as comfortable with seventeenth-century sectarians as with Victorian nonconformists, as familiar with the townlands of Ireland as the streets of London.”—John Gillis, Left History“A rich fund of subversive ideas.”—Daniel Johnson, The Times