[lit-ideas] Re: England good at "incorporating" immigrants

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 26 Apr 2011 12:03:48 -0700



You can see I hope how “assimilate” is right for American immigrants (whether 
or not it is right for English ones) – or at least it used to be right (this 
goal may have been degraded in recent times).   Washington and Adams may have 
had English ancestries but Kennedy’s was Irish, Eisenhower’s probably German, 
and Johnson’s perhaps Scandinavian.  Still those distinctions never enter into 
political discussions, for all Americans came from some place – and then they 
assimilated and became roughly indistinguishable from everyone else.  What was 
Bush’s ancestry?  I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone bring that up.  Why would 
they?  (Granted Obama’s ancestry has been brought up but only because some are 
challenging whether he was born in America and thus not eligible to be 
president – not one of my concerns btw).  


Hitler called us a nation of mongrels and, therefore, not up to facing the 
Wehrmacht in battle.  Is Britain (England, et al) on its own special road to 
becoming a nation of mongrels?  And what of Germany?  Are the Turks 
‘assimilating” or merely “incorporating.”  The implication of King’s words may 
be that the “mongrelization” process is much further along in England than in 


I’ve read a bit further in Bruce King’s book.  He mentions conflicts aplenty, 
one of the most notable in regard to British housing.  He mentions influences 
from the countries the immigrants came from, including Islamic Fundamentalism.  
These influences, King tells us, fade away as time goes on and the immigrants 
become more and more English (British).  King is obviously of the school that 
believes the Fundamentalist-Islamic threat exaggerated.


As to King’s use of the term “English” rather than “British,” he is after all 
writing Volume 13 of The Oxford English Literary History.”  He doesn’t 
distinguish well enough for the language-critics the difference between English 
as a language that great literature has been and is still being written and 
England (a sometime synonym for “Britain”) the nation, and while I have a few 
problems with what King has written that isn’t one of them.




From:  Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, April 26, 2011 10:57 AM
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: England good at "incorporating" immigrants


In a message dated 4/26/2011 1:18:26 P.M. ,  lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx 

For the record

L. K. Helm is quoting from B. King, "The Oxford English Literary  History",

Section, 'The Internationalization of English Literature'.

Page 1:

“During the second half of the twentieth century the literature of England 
went through a major change... Unlike previous period changes this one had
its  basis in a large influx of peoples from elsewhere. ... If the nation
seemed to  be withdrawing into a "little England" [scare quotes mine. JLS] of
post-imperial  dreariness and irritation, having a diminished relationship
to Europe and the  United States, or fragmenting into micro-nationalisms, the
new immigrants made  English literature international in other ways than it
had been during the  Empire." --- interesting here to consider, then,
"LITTLE England" versus "GREAT  Britain". I once read that "Great", in "Great
Britain", and I actually believe  this, the sailor in me, is due to a sailor's
chart: there are two Britains, or  two British Isles: Britannia Maiora --
("Great" or "Major" Britain) and  "Britannia Minora", or Minor England, or
Hibernia, or Ireland. This survives in  the official name of the country (never
"The Queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" -- this expression seems 
to ENTAIL, rather than 'implicate' that Northern Ireland is not part of
"Great  Britain" -- since it's a bit of the OTHER island. Surely someone born
in County  Antrim can call herself a "Brit", as she is, because it's part of
"minor"  Britain.

As student of history, and teacher of history, D. Ritchie, born north of 
the Tweed, etc., may perhaps expand on the very specific dating of the
creation  of "Britain" qua Empire, when, the last "King" or Queen of England
became King  or Queen of the "Union" of England-cum-Scotland.

J. Evans, b. Bath, but with connections with Wales can even perhaps expand 
on a perhaps EARLIER 'assimilation' between the Dragon of St. Davis of
Cymru  (which does not, alas, feature in the _flag_ of "Great Britain" as the
Cross of  St. Andrew or the Cross of St. Patrick, do, along with England's St.
George) and  England. Again, with monarchical matters, "You will have a
king that does not  speak Welsh" -- Edward I and II -- Edward II being too
young to speak either  Welsh or English for that matter. And so on.

So, I find the emergence of historical facts so rich and glorious in good 
Old England to just focus on what happened post the Coronation of Queen 
Elizabeth II --. But I agree with Burgess, in his "History of English 
Literature" that this is best seen as "Elizabethan Literature". "New 
era" of English literature.

Helm goes on to quote from King:

""England" [scare quotes mine -- not "Wales", or "Scotland", or "Ireland", 
which have, according to Bruce, their own 'literatures'] was once more at
the  centre of significant developments, and as England became multiracial
and  multicultural the claim that they do things better in France no longer 

I would need a listing. There was a recent prohibition in Paris to 'dress 
as a Muslim' for a woman. The reporter went: "In France you can strip your 
breast in Saint Tropez, but not hide your face in Notre Dame", or something.
I  found it a good example of a zeugma. Or not.

"England was much better at incorporating people than most of  Europe.""

The present concern with refugees passing from Liguria to Menton (and 
Paris, in their six-month 'visas' to "visit relations") is causing problems with
 the "Union" itself, so perhaps King should not generalise, "England" vs
the  "Continent", since there are shades of 'how good or bad at incorporating'
stuff  people are.

Assimilate is perhaps wrong -- since it presupposes 'similar'; incorporate 
is perhaps bad, too, in that 'corpus', in Latin, meant _dead body_? And so 


----- The Swimming-Pool Library, --- reading.

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