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  • Twin Countries July 10, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary , trackback


    This is an idea that has been going around and around in Beach’s head for a few years, the way that certain pairs of countries seem to have a strange sense of reciprocated fascination with each other. Three examples from Europe: Ireland and Germany; France and Poland; Italy and Britain. All these pairings include an unusual amount of shared interest between the two countries, reflected in everything from popular culture to high literature, to politics and even military alliances. There seem to be three keys in creating twinned countries. First, the country cannot be a neighbour: neighbours inevitably have problems getting on because of shared borders, particularly over the longue durée. Second, the country must be culturally close: there must be some kind of basis for brotherhood and that probably means the country can’t be that far away: if not you just have Tonio Kruger. But, third, there must be several striking differences and this is the real bond between the two countries: the mutual fascination at exotic features.

    Beach knows the relationship between Italy and Britain best. Here the two countries have been comfortably distant from each other, save in the Second World War: and even when fighting there was little venom in the battles between British and Italian troops. Superficially, the two countries have absolutely nothing in common: that at least is the common perception. However, there is in both Italian and British tradition (though for completely different reasons) a common stress on cunning over strength, diplomacy over warfare: a temperamental meeting of the minds that comes out, for example, in the excellence of the two countries’ intelligence services. This underlying bond, then, allows the two countries to focus on the things that they absolutely do not have in common. So the E.M. Forsters of this world can get excited about the Italian private sphere, passion and the prose, Bolognese sauce and the smooching in the moonlight; while the great Italian writers use Britain as a template for their impossible ideals of public life.

    Other twin countries: drbeachcombing At yahoo DOT com