By Peter Ackroyd
Along with his attribute enthusiasm and erudition, Peter Ackroyd follows his acclaimed London: A Biography with an encouraged inspect the guts and the heritage of the English mind's eye. to inform the tale of its evolution, Ackroyd levels throughout literature and portray, philosophy and technological know-how, structure and track, from Anglo-Saxon instances to the twentieth-century. contemplating what's such a lot English approximately artists as diversified as Chaucer, William Hogarth, Benjamin Britten and Viriginia Woolf, Ackroyd identifies a number of occasionally contradictory parts: pragmatism and whimsy, blood and gore, a fondness for the previous, a appreciate eccentricity, and lots more and plenty extra. an excellent, attractive and infrequently unbelievable narrative, Albion reveals the manifold nature of English genius.
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Extra info for Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination
BRITAIN 1660-1800 need to trouble the young with an unnecessary list of rules or 'manners' which did nothing but cause confusion and promote excessive awkwardness. For older children and young men, Locke proposed a more sophisticated relationship between inner civility and outer gesture. Again, 'civil' men were identified by their moral qualities evident in 'a disposition not to offend others', and a 'general Good will and Regard for all People'. But it was equally true that men became 'Well-fashion'd' when they embellished these virtues with a series of graceful movements and phrases, through which company was drawn to the virtuous individual and made 'easy and well pleased'.
Ontent of these new forms of conduct. ThIS vahdatIOn of gender 1 C 'many . o qua lUes noW eU"lbellished by refinement. enlightened SOCIal analysts they saw as 1 e d an overt discourse of manliness to illustrate what ~~ " Th the personal and societal benefits of a modern commercial ,~cono~y: .. ~ emphasis that Locke and later polite theorists attached to mner CIvilItIes did not prevent certain conduct writers, often dancing-masters turned author, from giviuO' extremely detailed advice on matterS of external posture and deportn"len~.
Exposure to women's compassion, sensitivity and eloquence would, it was hoped, stimulate a~miring men to adopt equivalent characteristics. es Forrester descnbed as '}\lIen of true Taste' those who through conversation in mixed company appropriated 'every Art of Pleasing, which is the Dispositio~ at once th~ most grateful to others, and the most satisfactory to ourselves . 5-[ Descriptions of this process regularly described female society as 'smoothing' or 'polishing' away the rough edges of the male character.