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

Paperback | March 26, 2009

byPatrick 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. The leader of the Labour party wears an informal coat at the Cenotaph and provokes a national scandal. An elderly lady whose ancient house is scheduled for demolition dismantlesit, 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. Itinvestigates the rise of 'heritage' as expressed in literature, advertising, and political rhetoric as well as in popular television dramas, conservation campaigns, and urban development schemes. It explores the relations between the idea of an imperilled national identity and the transformation ofBritish society introduced by Margaret Thatcher. This is the book that put 'heritage' on the map, opening one of the defining cultural and political debates of our time, and showing why conservation is a subject of such broad significance in contemporary Britain. This new edition includes an extensive new preface and interview material reflectingon the ongoing debate about the heritage industry which the book helped to kick-start.

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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. The leader of the Labour party wears an informal coat at the Cenotaph and provokes a national scandal. An elderly lady whose ancient house is scheduled for demolition dismantlesit, piece by piece, and moves it across the co...

Patrick Wright is a writer and broadcaster with an interest in the cultural dimensions of modern life. He 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 described as 'a wo...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 7.72 × 5.08 × 0.04 inPublished:March 26, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199541957

ISBN - 13:9780199541959

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Oxford University Press edition: Heritage and the Place of Criticism1. Introduction: Everyday Life, Nostalgia and the National Past2. Trafficking in History3. 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 Past5. Falling Back Together in the Nineteen Eighties: The Continuing Voyage of the Mary Rose6. Moving House in a Welfare State7. The Ghosting of the Inner CityAfterword: Everyday Life and the Aura of the Modern PastAppendix: Sneering at the Theme Parks: an Encounter with the Heritage IndustryIndex

Editorial Reviews

`In a rich and suggestive series of essays Patrick Wright explores the ways in which history itself has become the most powerful source of contemporary meanings about what Britain is and what it is to be British. 'Stuart Hall