Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

England England

England England

England, England (1998) is a postmodern dystopian novel by author Julain Barnes (1946-present). In the near future, a self-obsessed millionaire builds a theme park containing replicas of England's most famous tourist attractions. As the park becomes a massive success, the real England begins to decline and die. The novel is a humorous look at identity formation and memory's unreliability.

England, England: Summary

England, England is divided into three parts. Here is a look at the most important events from each section.

"England"

The novel's first section details the childhood of Martha Cochrane. Growing up in rural England, Martha enjoys an idyllic childhood until her father abandons the family. She remembers times spent with her father working on a jigsaw puzzle of the Counties of England but is so traumatized by her father's exit that she can not complete the puzzle. As Martha grows older, she struggles to define her identity and connect to what it means to be English.

England England, English Village Houses, StudySmarterFig. 1 - Although Martha grows up in a picturesque English village, her childhood is less than perfect.

"England, England"

The novel flashes forward to the near future. Now in her forties, Martha works for the influential media tycoon Sir Jack Pitman. Pitman wants to transform the entire Isle of Wight into a theme park containing replicas of England's most famous tourist attractions. He believes this miniature version of England would allow visitors to see all the most interesting parts of English culture and history without the inconvenience of having to travel around the actual country.

What is Pitman's idea of Englishness, and how does the character celebrate his sense of identity?

A team of consultants and researchers compile a list of things foreigners most associate with Englishness, which includes the Royal family, football (soccer) teams, and the Battle of Britain. Pitman uses the list to design a Disneyland-style theme park with actors playing historical figures staging reenactments of famous events in English history.

England England, Isle of Wight Coast, StudySmarterFig. 2 - The Isle of Wight is an island off England's southern coast.

As construction of the park gets underway, Martha begins an affair with her colleague, Paul Harrison. When the couple uncovers embarrassing sexual secrets about Pitman, Martha can leverage the information to be appointed as the park's CEO. Under her leadership, the park becomes a success and begins to generate massive revenue.

The park is so successful that Pitman gets a popular English football club to relocate to the island. As the number of visitors grows, Pitman starts to buy buildings and artifacts important to English history and ship them onto the island. Even the Royal family agree to move to the island and make public appearances at a scaled-down model of Buckingham Palace.

The Royal Family is intrinsically linked with English identity and the country's sense of tradition and history. Does Julian Barnes present this relationship as healthy or unhealthy?

With the park's economic success, Pitman begins to use his media empire to undermine "Old England." Globally, England starts to lose its power and shrink as the theme park grows stronger. Eventually, Pitman successfully lobbies the European Union to accept "England, England" as an independent sovereign state.

After a scandal at the park, Martha is forced to step down as CEO and finds herself banished from the island.

"Anglia"

After decades of traveling the world, Martha returns to mainland England. The population has declined dramatically, and the country has gone through deindustrialization. Those left behind have entirely closed themselves off from the rest of the world by banning new technology and tourism.

Anglia is the Latin form of England and was used to refer to the country during the Medieval period.

English society has regressed to an agricultural stage that reminds Martha of the small village from her childhood. As Martha settles into life in Old England, the villagers prepare for their annual festival celebrating England's patron saint, St. George. As the villagers organize traditional music and cuisine, Martha wonders if the customs are an authentic expression of Englishness or memories of an England that never existed.

England, England: Characters

Here is a look at the most important characters from Julian Barnes' England, England.

Martha Cochrane

The novel's protagonist is a smart but cynical woman who becomes the CEO of "England, England." The book's first section focuses on Martha's pleasant childhood in rural England. She romanticizes the simplistic innocence of life in a small English village until she is traumatized by her father's abandonment. As Martha grows older, she becomes more pessimistic and materialistic.

Throughout the novel, Martha suggests defining her identity and connecting to a larger sense of what it means to be English. Martha's struggle symbolizes the more significant problem of how to define Englishness in the late 20th century. As England's power on the global stage declined, many people found themselves unable to clarify what it meant to be English in a post-Empire era. Ultimately, Martha cannot decide whether it's possible to develop personal and national identities organically.

Sir Jack Pitman

Pitman is a pompous and self-obsessed millionaire driven to create a more tourist-friendly version of England by patriotism and greed. Through market research, Pitman finds the most quintessentially English items and designs a park around them, reasoning that tourists can enjoy all the benefits of visiting England without any inconveniences. He cares little about actual culture or historical accuracy. Although Pitman considers himself a patriot, he uses his newspapers and media influence to undermine and weaken Old England to ensure the success of the "England, England" theme park. Barnes based Pitman's character on the powerful media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

In England, England, Julain Barnes explores the creation and meaning of identity. A traditional sense of Englishness depends on quaint villages, stiff upper lips, and classic authors like William Shakespeare (1564-1616).

Despite being a small nation, England has historically been a significant player on the world stage. The British Empire controlled a quarter of the world's land mass for several centuries and occupied countries in Asia and Africa. The saying "The sun never sets on the British Empire" was, at one point, not an exaggeration.

As well as being an economic and military world power, England became a significant cultural force as the English language became a leading global language. In England, England, Julian Barnes argues that much of contemporary English identity is built on an overly romanticized version of history.

When Pitman's researchers produce a list of the most quintessentially English items and characteristics, people worldwide identify things like the Royal Family, Big Ben, pubs, and Robin Hood. However, they also list less flattering features of the English character, like snobbery, imperialism, hypocrisy, and bad hygiene.

England England, Big Ben Clock Tower, StudySmarterFig. 3 - People worldwide see "Big Ben" as a symbol of Englishness.

England, England: Themes

In England, England, Julian Barnes explores the construction of national identity and the problem of authenticity.

Identity and Authenticity

National identities are often based on a subjective view of history. While creating the England, England theme park, Pitman hires a team of consultants, including a historian specializing in English history. Since Pitman wants the park to be tourist-friendly, the designers focus on the positive aspects of England's history and completely omit the negative or ugly parts.

Many of Julian Barnes' works deal with the unreliability of history and memory. Just as individuals are likely to remember things in an overly flattering light, Barnes argues that nations also tend to build their identity on false memories. The creation of English identity sees England as a dominant world power that acted as a civilizing force in foreign lands. In reality, the British Empire was responsible for centuries of colonization, subjection, and death.

By the end of the 20th century, the British Empire's power had significantly declined. In this post-Empire period, Barnes argues that an overly romantic view of the past is dangerous for English identity as it leads to unjustified feelings of superiority. By ignoring the complete picture of history, identity becomes shallow and inauthentic.

While Pitman claims the park is an authentic version of Englishness, it is a highly fake replica of the real thing. The park sacrifices authenticity for convenience and, in the process, loses any connection to actual identity or culture. While tourists claim they want to participate in an authentic cultural experience, they cannot handle anything real. An example is the "Samuel Johnson Dining experience," where guests are invited to dine with an actor hired to play the famous writer. However, the actor hired to play Johnson becomes deeply immersed in the character and, like the real-life figure, becomes belligerent and rude to guests.

As synthetic recreation of England begins to overtake the real England, the actors hired in the park are forced to stage endless and highly inaccurate versions of historical events. The actors disappear into their roles, seeking authenticity. The band portraying Robin Hood and his Merry men choose to live in the forest and hunt animals while actors playing smugglers actually begin smuggling goods onto the island. The tourists find this actual representation of reality unpleasant. Any sense of authenticity is entirely at odds with the sanitized and stereotyped version of history the visitors paid to see.

England England: Analysis

Here is a look at the style and literary techniques of England, England, by Julian Barnes.

Genre

With England, England, Julian Barnes uses many of the thematic conventions of the postmodern genre.

Postmodernism is a form of literature that negates traditional storytelling conventions in favor of experimentation and invention. Postmodern works often use unreliable narrators, nonlinear storylines, or fragmentation to challenge the standard rules of literature.

Postmodernism challenges many commonly held beliefs and historical narratives. To postmodernists, ideas like identity, history, and even truth are formed by highly subjective viewpoints and experiences. Much like the park is a fabricated version of England, Barnes argues that Englishness itself is highly constructed and artificial. This artificiality comes from a selective reading of history which ignores the unpleasant truths in favor of a more tourist-friendly version.

This false sense of history ultimately results in a fake present where reality is in question. As the English people and tourists choose the park's artificial narrative, the real England is abandoned and left to die. Barnes sees this rejection of reality for a more sanitized world as extremely dangerous. The visitors to England, England don't want to learn anything new; they want their idealized version of England to be confirmed.

Barnes presents this commercialization of culture and identity as dystopian.

Dystopian fiction deals with nightmarish societies of the future. While utopian visions of the future depict perfect societies, dystopias often feature repressive regimes which restrict freedoms or absurdist, jarring realities. Famous examples of dystopian fiction include George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and The Handmaid's Tale (1985) by Margaret Atwood.

As the theme park nation emerges as a powerful state in Europe, Old England is left to rot. The new England is a tacky copy of the original that values profit over any authentic expression of culture and identity. The venture is successful because the people of England can ignore the truth of their history and buy into a highly synthetic version of their national story. Barnes uses the novel as a warning against the dangers of fabricating reality and the shallowness of modern life.

Symbolism

Many of the novel's symbols tie into the themes of identity and authenticity. Martha has happy memories of working with her father on a jigsaw puzzle of England's counties as a child. With the father's abandonment, both the puzzle and Martha are left incomplete. This reflects the theme of incomplete and constructed identities.

England England, English Flag, StudySmarterFig. 4 - The English flag features St. George's cross.

When Martha returns to Old England, she settles in a small village called Anglia, which symbolizes a more innocent, pre-industrial England. Barnes continues to explore the complexity of identity through the village festival. As the villagers prepare English flags featuring St. George's cross, Martha realizes that while St. George is closely associated with England, he was most likely from Greece. His symbol is also used to represent Portugal and Aragon, as well as the cities of Genoa and Venice. There is nothing uniquely English about St. George or his symbol.

Barnes uses the theme park to represent England's distance from its past and the dangers of commercialization. The reproductions of England's landmarks and historic sites end up drawing more visitors than the actual sites and ultimately contribute to the country's death. As people flock to a plastic, overly nostalgic version of history, they ignore the truth and cut themselves off from an authentic cultural expression.

England England: Quotes

In England, England, Julain Barnes examines the origins of cultural traditions and national identity.

...everything you imagined England to be, but more convenient, cleaner, friendlier, and more efficient." ("England," Ch. 3)

From the outset, Sir Jack Pitman envisions a version of England built around modern ideas of convenience and efficiency. This version ultimately ends up being highly superficial because it fails to embrace the inconvenient and unprofitable truths of English history and identity.

Could you reinvent innocence? Or was it always constructed, grafted onto the old disbelief? Were the children's faces proof of this renewable innocence-or was that just sentimentality?" ("Anglia")

As Martha settles down in the small, agricultural village of Anglia, she observes the villager's attempts to forge a new sense of English identity. As they struggle to remember the origin and meaning of traditional English songs, Martha wonders if it is possible to construct a genuine culture or if it must be built on old lies.

England England - Key takeaways

  • England, England is a postmodern dystopian novel by Julian Barnes.
  • The book tells the story of a young woman working at a giant theme park with replicas of England's most famous tourist attractions.
  • Julian Barnes uses many standard symbols of Englishness to represent the commercialization of culture.
  • The novel explores the formation of identity and the unreliability of memory.
  • Barnes is highly critical of both the shallow nature of consumerism and an overly nostalgic view of history.

References

  1. Fig. 1 Small English village (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Newton-in-Bowland.jpg)
  2. Fig. 2 Isle of Wight (https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?search=ISS015-E-6078&title=Special:MediaSearch&go=Go&type=image&haslicense=unrestricted)
  3. Fig. 3 Big Ben (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Big_Ben_at_sunset_-_2014-10-27_17-30.jpg)
  4. Fig. 4 English Flag (https://pixabay.com/illustrations/flag-england-cartoon-6326145/)

Frequently Asked Questions about England England

England, England was written by Julian Barnes.

England, England deals with national and personal identity themes and the unreliability of memory and history.

England, England is a postmodern dystopian novel.

England, England was written in 1998.

England, England is about a woman who works at a giant theme that recreates the most famous tourist attractions of England. As the park becomes successful, the original England begins to decay and die as the theme park emerges as an independent state. 

Final England England Quiz

Question

As a child, Martha has fond memories of working on a ___________ with her father. 

Show answer

Answer

Jigsaw puzzle

Show question

Question

On which island does Pitman build the "England, England" theme park? 

Show answer

Answer

Isle of Wight

Show question

Question

The "England, England" theme park strives for accuracy and authenticity. 

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

The theme park becomes so successful that Pitman is able to attract a __________ to the island. 

Show answer

Answer

Soccer team 

Show question

Question

Martha steps down as CEO for moral reasons. 

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

What is the name of the village Martha settles down in? 

Show answer

Answer

Anglia 

Show question

Question

With the theme park's success, Pitman is lobbying for "England, England" to join the ____________. 

Show answer

Answer

European Union 

Show question

Question

In England, England, Julian Barnes explores the dangers of ignoring the full picture of history. 

Show answer

Answer

True 

Show question

Question

An actor pretending to be which historic literary figure upsets the guests? 

Show answer

Answer

Samuel Johnson 

Show question

Question

Which genre best describes England, England

Show answer

Answer

Postmodernism 

Show question

Question

Which symbol appears on the English flag? 

Show answer

Answer

St. George's Cross

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the England England quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.