Englischsprachige Literatur

Fox Kate

Watching the English

Hodder, London 2004


This book is a must for every anglophile reader! The subtitle is “the Hidden Rules of English Behaviour”and itīs the ultimate guide to understanding the English, and not just them, to be precice.

And, as is befitting, Kate Fox talks about her anthropologist findings tongue in cheek. She confesses that she started doing research on English pub behaviour, because she found that a lot more convenient then camping out in some insect ridden tropical forest to explore indigenous tribes.

One of her elementary findings is the “Oh, come off it!” - rule, which applies in cases of ideological, political and social enthusiasm displayed too openly. Some of her conclusions on defining Englishness donīt sound exclusively English, at least for the non-English reader. So her descriptions of  gardening as a class indicator seem to apply to any gardening society: The lower the social class the tidier the garden. And the disregard for good behaviour is greatest in the lowest and highest levels of society, as Fox points out.

While reading the book I sometimes wondered if Fox` view of the English society isnīt a trifle old-fashioned, but on the other hand, she is the expert.