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Book Talk: The Politics of Pain: Postwar England and the Rise of Nationalism

Fintan O'Toole, Lewis Center for the Arts

November 4, 2019 · 6:00 pm · Labyrinth Books

Labyrinth Books; Fund for Irish Studies

England’s recent lurch to the right appears to be but one example of the nationalist wave sweeping across the world, yet as acclaimed Irish critic Fintan O’Toole suggests, it is, in reality, a phenomenon rooted in World War II. We must look not to the vagaries of the European Union but, instead, far back to the end of the British empire, if we hope to understand our most fraternal ally and the royal mess in which the British now find themselves.

O’Toole depicts a roiling nation that almost ludicrously dreams of a German invasion, if only to get the blood going, and that erupts in faux outrage over regulations on prawn-flavored crisps. A sympathetic yet unsparing observer, O’Toole asks: How did a great nation bring itself to the point of such willful self-harm?

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