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The road to BrexitA cultural perspective on British attitudes to Europe$
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Ina Habermann

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526145086

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7765/9781526145093

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A case for a Green Brexit? Paul Kingsnorth, John Berger and the pros and cons of a sense of place

A case for a Green Brexit? Paul Kingsnorth, John Berger and the pros and cons of a sense of place

Chapter:
(p.162) 8 A case for a Green Brexit? Paul Kingsnorth, John Berger and the pros and cons of a sense of place
Source:
The road to Brexit
Author(s):

Christian Schmitt-Kilb

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7765/9781526145093.00017

In 2014, Paul Kingsnorth published The Wake, a post-apocalyptic historical novel set in the years after the Norman invasion that tells the story of a group of native guerilla fighters who resist the ‘Norman yoke’. Read in our historical moment and against the backdrop of some of Kingsnorth’s political essays and articles, The Wake appears as a Brexit novel avant la lettre that constructs an authentic Anglo-Saxon Englishness, obliterated through invasion by the Continental Other. The threat that the foreigners pose to English identity serves as a template to the threat that globalisation and the ‘myth of progress’ pose to contemporary English identity. A comparison of Kingsnorth’s positions with those of John Berger throws the contingency of the traditional political categories of left and right into stark relief. Berger is equally straightforward in emphasising the importance of a sense of place, belonging and local identity in the face of globalised capitalism, but while Kingsnorth draws on a new right rhetoric of authentic place-based national identity, Berger’s Marxist humanism allows for a thinking of the nexus between place and identity not infatuated with narrow-minded particularism and exclusionary discourses of nationhood.

Keywords:   Brexit fiction, John Berger’s ‘Ten Dispatches About Place’, Paul Kingsnorth’s The Wake, ‘Left’ and ‘right’, National identity, Sense of place, Universalist liberalism vs. particularist nationalism

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