am 12. Mai 1999
Through the thoughts and perceptions of England from the 17th C. to today by a variety of Europeans who considered themselves Anglophiles, the author measures and comments on the realism or otherwise of their observations. A bookful of interesting visitors to England, some of whom remained to live out their lives there, makes the book a fascinating read. Ranging from Voltaire through Theodore Herzl to Isiaih Berlin and including a Prince "Pickle", we learn how the non-English sought to imitate the natives and pass for them, often enough based on mistaken ideas of their ideal. The original title of the book when published in Britain was "Voltaire's Coconuts". Interesting that the title had to be changed for the US edition. "Anglomania" is a much poorer title, since the subject is not so much anglomania as the view of England by foreigners, remaining surprisingly consistent over time even though the England of the beginning of the book has changed considerably over the past century. The admiration of the Anglophile seems always focussed upon the "English gentleman", aristocratic and not very democratic, existing in a country where freedom and liberal thought provide the counterbalance to despotism and sinister state control, so frequently the lot of Britain's neighbors. In the final two chapters of the book, Buruma observes a country with less liberal, even paranoid voices, when the topic is Europe. Not a pretty sight. And for these so-called defenders of British democracy and sovereignty from European 'demons', sounding like Hitler and his ilk appears to be no contradiction! This is by far the most readably interesting book I have read since Hugo Young's "This Blessed Plot". Come to think of it, the two books should be read as companion volumes!
Es sind wohl die Nicht-Briten, die das Britische noch am meisten lieben. Ian Buruma, kosmopolitischer Geisteswissenschaftler, gehört auch ein wenig dazu. Die anglomanen Menschen, die er aufzählt, umfassen Voltaire wie Herzl. Das Besondere der Insel, der gepflegt-aristokratische Lebensstil der glücklichen Oberklasse - aus der Ferne wird es noch mal verklärt. Das Land industrialisierte sich als erstes, es reformierte sich politisch, es gebar große Schriftsteller und das große Empire - mit stiff upper lip und makelloser Kleidung.
Und gleichzeitig ist Buruma ein genügend scharfer Beobachter, um auch die aktuellen fremden- und europafeindlichen Tendenzen zu sehen. Thatcher und Major wandelten die guten Sitten in unverhohlene Gier und den Eton-Akzent in den Essex-Brei um. Das wird auch der Anglomanie einmal den Atem aussaugen. Schade.
am 15. Mai 1999
It has been a long time since I read a book that I enjoyed so thoroughly. Part European travelogue, Buruma travels from Voltaire's home in Ferney, to Germany, to Holland, and to Great Britain; part philosophical reflection, part history, and part autobiography, Buruma ties together all the strands in a perfectly beautiful bow. Wonderfully written, with unforgettable profiles of major historical and literary figures. "Laughter is Forbidden!" announced the Germans as they produced Shakespeare's plays -- but laughter, tears, and insights are the inevitable outcome of a few hours curled up with "Anglomania: A European Love Affair."