Notes on the English Character 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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Notes on the English Character (E.M. Forster)

First note. I had better let the cat out of the bag at once and record my opinion that the character of the English is essentially middle class. There is a sound historical reason for this, for, since the end of the eighteenth century, the middle classes have been the dominant force

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Empire built with a Bible in one hand, a pistol in the other

The Germans are called brutal, the Spanish cruel, the Americans superficial, and so on; but we are perfide Albion, the island of hypocrites, the people who have built up an Empire with a Bible in one hand, a pistol in the other, and financial concessions in both pockets. Is the charge true?
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