Reading Brexit Backwards: British Eurosceptic Fiction from ECSC to Maastricht

Shaw, Kristian (2022) Reading Brexit Backwards: British Eurosceptic Fiction from ECSC to Maastricht. Open Library of Humanities: Writers and Intellectuals in Britain and Europe, 1918-2018, 8 (1). ISSN 2056-6700

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.16995/olh.8840

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Reading Brexit Backwards: British Eurosceptic Fiction from ECSC to Maastricht
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Abstract

The post-war years were a period of introspection for British society as the nation
endeavoured to remain fiercely insular yet became increasingly troubled by
geopolitical relations reshaping the war-torn continent. Britain swiftly assumed the
role of the reluctant European; their opposition to integration hindered by a
destructive nostalgia for the past, the perceived erosion of cultural heritage and a
sense of English exceptionalism. Beginning with a brief contextual analysis of the
events leading to the 2016 EU Referendum, this article will argue that early
warning signs of British antipathy were evident in literary responses to integration
from the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) to the
signing of the Maastricht Treaty which established the European Union.
Through a close reading of selected fictions by key figures in this period, including
Kingsley Amis, Angus Wilson, Nancy Mitford and Malcolm Bradbury, the article
identifies how early warning signs of British antipathy to European integration
were clearly evident in post-war literature. By reading Brexit backwards, the article
excavates the historical roots of Euroscepticism implanted in the cultural
imaginary.

Keywords:Brexit, European Union, Post-war History, Contemporary Literature
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q320 English Literature
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (English)
ID Code:49170
Deposited On:16 May 2022 15:00

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