It received its first serious wound on the Somme in , its death blows at Dunkirk and Singapore, the coup de grace at Suez in Overseas, the end of the British Empire brought freedom to nations which for the most part had not been nations before the arrival of the British -- they were effectively constructed by the Empire -- and in developing a post-colonial identity they were making something new. For both of them, a post-British, post-colonial nationhood, statehood, national identity, national culture will rather be the re-emergence of something that existed previously, before being submerged into the British mish-mash in the mean time.
Applied to the history of either England or Scotland, the implication of the metaphor is more than the ending of one phase or chapter in a sequence, for just as a sentence, when an inserted parenthesis ends, picks up where it left off, so, at the end of the British Parenthesis, Scottish or English nationhood restores, connects back to, can seek inspiration and energy from, where it was before the interruption, in pre-British Scotland or England.
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In the corresponding English Renaissance which we can now anticipate, the order will likely be the reverse: an English Literary Renaissance will be enabled by the rebirth of national consciousness without which it has manifestly been infeasible, again because of the matter of vocabulary. As with the question of nationhood it would be more accurate to say that these other literatures seek a distinctiveness in relation to a metropolitan, British literature, leaving English Literature -- the literature of England -- free to do the same.
And that Literature of England, as it emerges into the post-British light, in the way anticipated by the Scots, will draw strength and inspiration by reconnecting with its pre- 9 Andrew Sanders, The Short Oxford History of English Literature, 2nd edn. Oxford: Oxford UP, , p. There will be a decisive reconnection with English authors who really were English and not British: with Chaucer, with the authors of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the medieval lyrics and the mystery cycles, with Malory, with Sir Thomas More, with Tudor poets such as Wyatt and Surrey, Elizabethans such as Sidney, Spenser and Marlowe, Jacobeans like Donne, and not least, of course, William Shakespeare.
Much has been done in recent decades to restore our understanding of Shakespeare and his works before they were engulfed in the mists of Bardolatry. We have re-established his original texts; we have re-built the kinds of theatres for which his plays were created; we have explored the cognitive patterns prevalent in his time. But the task of re- establishing his Englishness remains to be achieved. Shakespeare belongs to England and and reflects whatever was characteristic of the English at his time. Come the three corners of the world in arms, And we shall shock them. Nought shall make us rue If England to itself do rest but true Tobin Boston: Houghton Mifflin, These new media, under several headings, restore features of their pre-print antecedents, and to the extent shifts in media technology influence or determine changes in cultural production and ways of thinking aka cognition , these too are reconnecting with the ways they were before this parenthesis opened.
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