Gavin Stamp

Airbrushing the Past

The Ministry of Nostalgia

By

Verso 218pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

‘Keep Calm and Carry On.’ Set in sans-serif lettering with a royal crown above it, this Second World War slogan, or variations on the theme, now regularly appears on tea towels, mugs and fridge magnets. Its ubiquity has provoked Owen Hatherley into writing The Ministry of Nostalgia, half modern history and half angry rant. He believes that ‘our past is being resold in order to defend the indefensible’ and that this involves ‘the creation of a false history: a rewriting of the austerity of the 1940s and 1950s … This period has been recast to explain and offer consolation for the violence of neoliberalism, an ideology dedicated to the privatisation of our common wealth.’ In other words, the unnecessary, ideology-driven austerity of today is being camouflaged with nostalgia.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • From the Archive: Martyn Bedford on Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' ,
    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,