Special relationships

Anglo-American affinities and antagonisms 1854–1936

This book addresses the special relationship from the perspective of post-Second World War British governments. It argues that Britain's foreign policy challenges the dominant idea that its power has been waning and that it sees itself as the junior partner to the hegemonic US. The book also shows how at moments of international crisis successive British governments have attempted to re-play the same foreign policy role within the special relationship. It discusses the power of a profoundly antagonistic relationship between Mark Twain and Walter Scott. The book demonstrates Stowe's mis-reading and mis-representation of the Highland Clearances. It explains how Our Nig, the work of a Northern free black, also provides a working-class portrait of New England farm life, removed from the frontier that dominates accounts of American agrarian life. Telegraphy - which transformed transatlantic relations in the middle of the century- was used by spiritualists as a metaphor for the ways in which communications from the other world could be understood. The story of the Bolton Whitman Fellowship is discussed. Beside Sarah Orne Jewett's desk was a small copy of the well-known Raeburn portrait of Sir Walter Scott. Henry James and George Eliot shared a transatlantic literary network which embodied an easy flow of mutual interest and appreciation between their two milieux. In her autobiography, Gertrude Stein assigns to her lifelong companion the repeated comment that she has met three geniuses in her life: Stein, Picasso, and Alfred North Whitehead.

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