A Social History of the English Countryside by G E Mingay - review by J W M Thompson

J W M Thompson

Not So Quaint As It Seems

A Social History of the English Countryside


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I well remember an old man saying to me, many years ago, that one of the great regrets of his life was the destruction of the English countryside as he remembered it from the days before 1914. He seemed to be looking back towards a lost Arcadia. Nowadays, I sometimes find myself with the same sort of regret as I recall the countryside from the days of my own youth, in the 1930s.

It seems that twentieth-century man, although normally a city-dweller or suburbanite, is much given to this habit of sighing for a vanished rural world. Admittedly, there is a general human tendency to improve the past in retrospect, fixing the mind upon its pleasing aspects and overlooking its unpleasantnesses. Perhaps this

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