The Mutability Of National Character

A Scandinavian writer has recently worried about the EU being infected with joyless Nordic Puritanism and nannying overregulation of citizen pleasures. He consistently takes the Spaniard as the epitome of the happy hedonist. But how were Spaniards seen four hundred years ago? As proud ascetics and stern inquisitors. Indeed, “to make a Spanish face” was the standard Austrian expression for looking severe and gloomy. At around the same time the English were the European byword for an unstable, violent, emotional and furious rabble of revolutionaries and religious fanatics, incapable of governing themselves. Fast-forward three centuries and they were famous for the stiff upper lip, while the Spaniards were seen as fun-loving layabouts. And yet some things remain the same: in the Middle Ages the English were infamous binge drinkers. There are surely some doctoral dissertations in here for someone: whether we regard “national character” as something real or as a projection, the question remains why it should change so drastically from century to century.

Posted on January 23, 2011 at 09:51 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: MONKEY BUSINESS, Monkey Business, Miscellaneous

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