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John Bull and the Continent

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Edited By Wojciech Jasiakiewicz and Jakub Lipski

Ever since John Arbuthnot published The History of John Bull in 1712, the figure of John Bull has stereotypically personified the best and the worst traits of the British (or English) national character. The present work takes the eponymous juxtaposition as an incentive to study the variety of multi-faceted contacts between the two sides. Given the recent attempts at a re-definition of the relationship between Britain and the Continent – best visible in the turmoil over Britain’s EU membership – the results of the research will hopefully stimulate discussion about John Bull’s ever-changing presence within or without the Continent.
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Preface

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The following articles have been written in response to a call for papers issued by the Department of English at Kazimierz Wielki University in Bydgoszcz. For about a decade, one of its primary areas of research has been literary and cultural contacts between Britain and Poland. This was our starting point, though the outcome is fortunately much broader and more comprehensive.

The figure of John Bull has stereotypically personified Great Britain ever since John Arbuthnot published The History of John Bull in 1712. The pamphlet introduced the personage as “an honest, plain-dealing fellow, choleric, bold, and of a very unconstant temper” (Arbuthnot 2008: Chap. 5), which from then on was taken to represent the best and the worst traits of the British (or English) national character. The perspectives adopted in the present volume, however, extend the meaning of the metaphor, taking the eponymous juxtaposition between John Bull and Continental Europe as an incentive to study the variety of multi-faceted relationships and influences between the two sides.

Part I – “John Bull and Poland” – is concerned with direct and indirect contacts between Britain and Poland from the sixteenth century to the present. Wojciech Jasiakiewicz compares the socio-political situation in Tudor England and post-1944 Poland; Małgorzata Rutkowska studies the representation of Poland in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British travel accounts; Magdalena Ożarska traces probable Austenian inspirations for Maria Wirtemberska’s Malvina; Miłosz Cybowski re-creates the situation of Polish emigrants in nineteenth-century France and Britain and...

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