Sep. 8th, 2014

jyrgenn: Blurred head shot from 2007 (Default)
Some time ago I found this book mentioned at some other place and immediately resolved to read it, which I finally did.

Fox is a cultural anthropologist by trade, and as such, embarks on the IIRC self-appointed endeavour to investigate the English. While this is a serious study, she presents it with lots of humour, making this book both interesting and funny.

At the end she arrives at the result that at the core of Englishness sits what she calls the "social dis-ease", a non-relaxedness, an awkwardness of the English in dealing with each other (except with close friends and family). This social dis-ease results not only in hypocrisy, class snobbery, and eeyorishness, but also in humour, modesty, and fair play.

But not only the result is interesting, but also all the details she gets into. Her own embarrassment when she experiments with queue-jumping, all those consequences of the money-talk taboo, a broad perspective on rites of passage — there is a lot in here, and all really fascinating to see so thoroughly scrutinized.

Everywhere in that book I recognized things that also applied to me, or rather to the northern German society I grew up in, and things that did not. It would be most interesting to read the same book about my own tribe; alas, of course it is impossible to find the same kind of anthropologist from northern Germany doing the same thing.

So this must stand alone, but as such, it is an extremely interesting book, and great fun to read.

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