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by RogueTrooper Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 10:46:05 AM EST

My apologies if this has already been posted. It is an article about a new book, That Sweet Enemy, by Isabelle and Robert Tombs about the relationship between Britain and France.  The article is just fabulous.


Have any of Eurotrib's French posters read or heard about the book: The English are Invading Us!


The waiter doesn't know who he's dealing with. Robert Tombs is a specialist in French history, a self-confessed francophile who, with his French wife, Isabelle, also a historian, has just written a book called That Sweet Enemy: the French and the British from the Sun King to the Present. At a time when books that cunningly exploit that cross-Channel loathing - such as José-Alain Fralon's new Help, the English Are Invading Us! (Au Secours, les Anglais Nous Envahissent!) and A Year in the Merde and Merde Actually by Stephen Clarke - are proving lucrative, That Sweet Enemy sets the frogs v rosbifs rumpus in its historical context.

The book is published in the same week that Jacques Chirac walked out of an EU summit because a fellow Frenchman chose to address the meeting in English, arguing it was the European language of business. That meeting was ostensibly about European cooperation. But the point remains: there is nothing so galling to a Frenchman as to suggest that those mucky rosbifs across the Channel and their ugly language might have the upper hand.


Mwahahahahah! All your base are belong to us. Now, let's eat...

There is a great deal about food in the book. For instance, the great French penseur Roland Barthes contended that steak-frites was "the alimentary sign of Frenchness", but the Tombses write that, in fact, this national dish was imported by Wellington's army. "The same is true of cognac," says Isabelle. "It isn't French at all. Well, it is now, in fact it's more French than French - it's a symbol. But actually it was you who invented it." "Well, the Irish Jacobites," says Robert.

"And your late granny," Robert says to Isabelle, "gave us a cookbook called Cuisine et Vins de France which listed a Frenchman's favourite dinner which includes leg of lamb, which is quintessentially English really. And smoked salmon, which isn't French. Their favourite drink is whisky! I think we've had a lot of influence on French eating habits without realising it." That is the book's grand theme: in Kipling's words, approvingly quoted towards the end, the task of each nation has been "to mould the other's fate as he wrought his own".


The most interesting part of the article.

What are the prospects for these two feuding nations? Are they doomed to become the minnow and the flea? Isabelle fears so, unless they get into bed together. But surely that won't happen? "It could be that the Iraq war has weakened the British relationship with America," says Robert, "and it could be that the realisation that Europe is not going to be a French empire has made the French less sure of Europe. So there's a certain logic that the two should go together. It's a possibility."

Perhaps like Isabelle and Robert, France and Britain may arrive at some mutually rewarding embrace. It is, after all, a thin line between love and hate. But, given the history of hostility recorded in That Sweet Enemy, such an intimate alliance seems unlikely.


Maybe,  maybe not.

Poll
Who hates each other more?
. The English hate the French more 46%
. The French hate the English more 0%
. A Plague on both their houses. 53%

Votes: 13
Results | Other Polls
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Thanks for posting this, it was a pleasure to read.
It reminded me of a promise I made to myself the last time I went to France two years ago- next time I go there, I will definitely be able to speak at least a little bit of French:)! I don't want to get lost in Paris in the middle of the night again without being able to make people talk some English to me.

I can resist anything but temptation.- Oscar Wilde
by Little L (ljolito (at) gmail (dot) com) on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 12:31:47 PM EST
Non French people I have spoken to who have lived in the country for any serious amount of time generally subscribe to one of two views:
  1. France is nice, pity it's inhabited by the French.
  2. France is nice, pity Paris is inhabited by Parisians.

I suspect these are actually the same: The tourists view of the natives who stand in the way of the lovely scenery.

(My sample isn't large enough to, well, fill a van, really.)

by Number 6 on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 11:02:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not surprisingly, I'll chip in with a counter-view. As a non-French person who knows both Paris and other parts of France, I'm eternally glad it's inhabited by the French. Just as I'm glad, when I'm in my home country Britain, that it's inhabited by the British.

Now, France inhabited by the British and Britain by the French, that would be a real mess ;)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 11:08:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting.

The only part of the UK I (a Swede) know much about is <just outside London>, and seems to be inhabited by Chinese and Russians.

by Number 6 on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 11:12:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
London used to be a nice place...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 11:14:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You xenophobe...!

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 11:21:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're right, I'm ashamed...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 11:36:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What, you mean Mid-to-late September 1666, or thereabouts ... ?
by Number 6 on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 11:29:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah. Or the summer before that... ;)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 11:35:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where I live (within Greater London) is inhabited by Jamaicans, Nigerians, Bangladeshis, Poles...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 11:20:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Remember, if you threaten to butcher their language they'll generally crumble and speak English to stop the pain.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 11:05:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How much did Ireland lose to France in 6 Nations this year?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 11:09:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who cares? They beat the English.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 11:13:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah. <whisper> and the welsh...<whisper>
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 11:14:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You need to do several polls:

the X envy the Y more
the X love the Y more
the X resent the Y more
the X pity the Y more
the X are jealous of the Y more
the X know the Y more
the X care what the Y say/think more

And so on...

Who said that the history of the world is but a byproduct of the France-British rivalry?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 03:40:34 PM EST
Do you mean it's the by-product of the British-French rivalry? :)

We were recently discussing in class whether European colonialism did more good or damage to the Middle East. Of course, we reached no conclusion despite the many arguments that were brought up on both sides. The very first thing that came to MY mind were Sommerset Maugham's great short stories about hypocritical European missionaries preaching to indigenous populations.

Maugham, btw, imho, CAN be viewed as the embodiment of Franco-German friendship and feudship at the same time. One of my favorite writers and a real gentleman.:))

by Brownie on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 08:30:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And of course the English invented sparkling champagne - having come up with the technology to produce bottles strong enough to withstand the pressure from the fermentation. Meanwhile the good monk Dom Perignon was desperately trying to find a way of making his wines still and avoid the bubbles.

Whisky by the way is not Scottish. They got it from Italy though it is likely that it was originally Chinese.

by Londonbear on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 04:13:51 PM EST
Nice post, RogueTrooper.

A rewarding embrace between France and Britain shouldn't be unlikely. France and Germany, for example, founded the union. Or is that analogy inaccurate? And the embrace doesn't have to be one of love. Common interest suffices, as the book says.

All the myths about certain foods etc being French or British reminded me of a trite statement that we all know. I recently heard it in class again: "Nobody is born an American. They are MADE one. National identity is an abstraction."

by Brownie on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 08:12:42 PM EST
and being French is a state of mind.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 03:51:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I look forward to your essay of what that state of mind entails. (With graphs! Must have graphs!)

(I'm not being facetious. Oh, and I love the word "facetious.")

by Number 6 on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 11:08:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 11:12:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks!

(Nearly as interesting as the Ig Nobel Prize for those MRI pictures.)

by Number 6 on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 11:24:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I were at home I'd use the GIMP to change the colours to Red, White and Blue. That brain must have been someone from Cameroon.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 11:26:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for looking up flags. I was starting off with Italy, Ireland, ... didn't work.

Cameroon, you say. Wikipedia here I come (again) ...

by Number 6 on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 11:32:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, Red, Yellow and Green are the pan-African colours.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 11:34:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The guy on the right is from Spain, clearly...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 11:34:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In siesta, judging by the brain activity...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 12:44:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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