Reading Notes 2016.10.19


---A Life Beyond Boundaries, by Benedict Anderson 
[p.191] War, travel, trade and reading kept polities of divergent sizes in constant, if often hostile, contact. Characteristic of this situation is the relation of English to Dutch. Most English people today have no idea that hundreds of English words come from what the huge Oxford English Dictionary categorizes as Old Dutch, but they treasure the hostile expressions 'Dutch courage' (bravery based on drunkenness), 'Dutch treat' (inviting a woman to dinner and insisting that she half the bill) and 'Dutch wives' (solid, hard bolsters for comfortable sleeping).
[p.124-125] The debate was really triggered by Nairn's polemical The Break-up of Britian, which argued that the UK was a fossilized, conservative and imperialistic relic of the past, doomed to break up into its four constituent underlying nations, with Scotland leading the way. The book was strongly attacked, especially by Hobsbawm, who declared that no true Marxist could be a nationalist; Marxiam had been committed from the start to internationalism. I like the book very much, for its own sake, but also as an Irishman (Southern Ireland, after centuries of English colonial rule, had only won its independence, by armed struggle, in 1922).

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