Across the Pond: An Englishman's View of America

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W. W. Norton & Company, Jun 24, 2013 - History - 192 pages

An irreverent trip through American culture by a critic who “cracks jokes as easily as one would crack walnut shells” (Washington Post).

Americans have long been fascinated with the oddness of the British, but the English, says literary critic Terry Eagleton, find their transatlantic neighbors just as strange. Only an alien race would admiringly refer to a colleague as “aggressive,” use superlatives to describe everything from one’s pet dog to one’s rock collection, or speak frequently of being “empowered.” Why, asks Eagleton, must we broadcast our children’s school grades with bumper stickers announcing “My Child Made the Honor Roll”? Why don’t we appreciate the indispensability of the teapot? And why must we remain so irritatingly optimistic, even when all signs point to failure?

On his quirky journey through the language, geography, and national character of the United States, Eagleton proves to be at once an informal and utterly idiosyncratic guide to our peculiar race. He answers the questions his compatriots have always had but (being British) dare not ask, like why Americans willingly rise at the crack of dawn, even on Sundays, or why we publicly chastise cigarette smokers as if we’re all spokespeople for the surgeon general.

In this pithy, warmhearted, and very funny book, Eagleton melds a good old-fashioned roast with genuine admiration for his neighbors “across the pond.”


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ABVR - LibraryThing

Authors from Alexis de Tocqueville and Charles Dickens to Alistair Cooke and Bill Bryson have, over the years, made “America, seen through foreign eyes” an evergreen literary subgenre. Literature ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Caomhghin - LibraryThing

Can you sum up a whole nation of people in even a long book let alone a short one? Of course not but Eagleton has fun trying and is fairly even handed in his dispensations. Please don't take it seriously. Read full review


Contents Introduction l
Divided Languages l
The Outgoing Spirit l
Mortal Bodies and Immortal Minds l
America the Dutiful l
The Affirmative Spirit l
The One and the Many l
The Fine and the Good l
Acknowledgements l
About the Author l

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About the author (2013)

Terry Eagleton was born in Manchester, England. The author of more than forty books, including the seminal Literary Theory: An Introduction, he has taught at Oxford, Cambridge, and the University of Manchester. He resides in Dublin, Ireland, with his wife and children.

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