emotions Archive

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The English character is incomplete in a way that is particularly annoying to the foreign observer

But the English character is incomplete in a way that is particularly annoying to the foreign observer. It has a bad surface—self complacent, unsympathetic, and reserved. There is plenty of emotion further down, but it never gets used. There is plenty of brain power, but it is more often used to confirm

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The Englishman appears to be cold and unemotional because he is really slow

The Englishman appears to be cold and unemotional because he is really slow… When a disaster comes, the English instinct is to do what can be done first, and to postpone the feeling as long as possible. Hence they are splendid at emergencies… It acts promptly and feels slowly. —E. M. Forster,

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Emotion has nothing to do with appropriateness

No—but your whole attitude toward emotion is wrong. Emotion has nothing to do with appropriateness. It matters only that it shall be sincere. I happened to feel deeply. I showed it. It doesn’t matter whether I ought to have felt deeply or not. —E. M. Forster, Notes on the English Character

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For it is not that the Englishman can’t feel—it is that he is afraid to feel

And it is this undeveloped heart that is largely responsible for the difficulties of Englishmen abroad. An undeveloped heart—not a cold one. The difference is important, and on it my next note will be based. For it is not that the Englishman can’t feel—it is that he is afraid to feel. He

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Oh damn the English!

You see, my darling girl, it isn’t quite done over here to parade one’s emotions so publicly. We as a race, on the whole, prefer to—understate. Do you understand my darling?—I was guilty of bad form, especially as, I think I did, I cried a bit when I told them… Oh damn

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Do you know what the English vice really is?

Do you know what “le vice anglais”—the English vice—really is? Not flagellation, not pederasty—whatever the French believe it to be: it’s our refusal to admit our emotions. We think they demean us, I suppose. Terence Rattigan, In Praise of Love, (1973) Act II, p.537

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Englishwomen conceal their feelings until after they are married

Englishwomen conceal their feelings until after they are married. They show them then. Oscar Wilde, A Woman of no Importance

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I am due to appear in court next week

I am due to appear in court next week Charged with emotion. Roger McGough, Vandal

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We go home and cry on our own

I think what is British about me is my feelings and awareness of others and their situations. English people are always known to be well mannered and cold but we are not cold—we don’t interfere in your situation. If we are heartbroken, we don’t scream in your face with tears—we go home

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British face from which emotion has been so carefully banished

His face was the sort of British face from which emotion has been so carefully banished that a foreigner is apt to think the wearer of the face incapable of any sort of feeling; the kind of face which, if it has any expression at all, expresses principally the resolution to go
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