National Identity in Julian Barnes' England, England Essay

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National Identity in Julian Barnes' England, England “The finest tax-deductible minds were brought in to address the Project’s Co-ordinating Committee. The French intellectual was a slight, neat figure in an English tweed jacket half a size too big for him; with it he wore a pale blue button-down shirt of American cotton, an Italian tie of flamboyant restraint, international charcoal wool trousers, and a pair of tasselled French loafers” (54). Julian Barnes uses his postimperial novel, England, England, to critique what England, under Tony Blair’s administration, is moving towards – a recreated Britain, an all-inclusive nation with no appreciation of its history, except that which has been distorted in order be politically…show more content…
Any Englishman would laugh at Sir Jack’s plan to make English history an exhibition, but Barnes is subtly pointing out that Tony Blair’s administration is moving towards the same end. While it may be a good thing for Blair to move England away from its role as the “double-decker bus, red phone booth” society that most view it as, he still wants Britain to become an exhibition, just of a different sort. Sir Jack may be putting twisted British history on display, but perhaps Blair is displaying a false national identity. Both of these presentations are artificial and with them, the same intent: to capitalize on only what is beneficial in recreating Britain, leaving the rest to fade away. It is very apparent in the novel that the success of England, England relies solely on tourists. Barnes is saying that the Britain that Blair is moving towards would rely solely on outsiders as well. While it is definitely a very good thing to be an all-inclusive nation, Barnes shows that it is not a very good thing to let the all-inclusiveness take over the Britishness. Sir Jack’s theme park becomes a place where tourists gather to see the ideal, rather than the real. Barnes is saying the same about Blair’s new Britain.

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