Friday, 8 May 2009
The English Through French Eyes
I am reading at the moment Melvyn Bragg's novel, Remember Me. Some of the characters are French, and this is what one of them says about the English: "The English, said Louis, .... were the most strange people in Europe. Three very important things needed always to be remembered, he said, as he took a sip of wine and lectured them. Firstly, the English lived on an island and though this was an obvious fact, it was a key one psychologically. Secondly, and paradoxically, they had been invaded by many different peoples. Consequently they had a unique combination of the Romantic and the German and the Nordic, which was later enriched by exiles fleeing from Europe, so they were not a race but, much better, a people. Thirdly, to trade, they had to cross the water, so the English became masters of the seas and peoples from all over the world knew them and their language and came back to live there and so their island also became a little world of its own."