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216 × 138 mm
208 pages
10 Sep 2018

The Good Brexiteer’s Guide to English Lit John Sutherland

What is Nigel Farage’s favourite novel? Why do Brexiteers love Sherlock Holmes? Is Philip Larkin the best Brexit poet ever? Through the politically relevant side-road of English literature, John Sutherland quarries the great literary minds of English history to assemble the ultimate reading list for Brexiteers. What happened to Britain on 24 June 2016 shook the country to its roots. The Brexit vote changed Britain. But despite its referendum victory, Brexit is peculiarly hollow. It is an idea without political apparatus, without sustaining history, without field-tested ideology. Without thinkers. It is like Frankenstein waiting for the lightning bolt.

In this irreverent and entertaining new guide, Sutherland suggests some stuffing for the ideological vacuity at the heart of the Brexit cause. He looks for jingoistic meaning in the works of William Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy, in modern classics like The Queen and I and London Fields, and in the national anthem, school songs and great poetry of the country. Sutherland explores what Britain meant, means and will mean, and subtly shows how great literary works have a shaping influence on the world. Witty and insightful, and with a preface by John Crace, this book belongs on the shelves of all good, bragging Brexiteers and many diehard Remoaners too.

EXTRACT: to read and download a sample chapter from the book please click here.

‘Sutherland brings the entire literary canon into orbit around the political black hole. Is Blake's “Jerusalem” Brexity? (Sort of.) Is Kipling? (Not quite.) “Brexit” itself is an ugly word, especially when you hear it several times on every page, but since the rest of public life is lost in its vortex, why not literature too?’ – Daily Telegraph

‘Sutherland developed this BrexLit survey as a curriculum for a Britain about to leave the EU. “Brexit,” he writes, “is an idea without political apparatus, without sustaining history, without field-tested ideology.” He’s here to remedy that by culling the canon for expressions of Englishness, “that green and pleasant land,” that good Brexiteers revere: Shakespeare, Hardy, Orwell, and others (though not Dickens). This is the British academic’s umpteenth repackaging of his love of lit.’ – Toronto Star

‘A diehard remainer, Sutherland has performed the ultimate sacrifice. He has given the Brexiters something they were never able to give themselves: a cultural and literary hinterland around which they can unite, and against which Brexit can be better understood.’ – The Guardian

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John Sutherland is Emeritus Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College London and the author of some thirty books, including A Little History of Literature (2013), How to be Well Read (2014) and Orwell’s Nose: A Pathological Biography (Reaktion, 2017). He is a reviewer and essayist for The Times.