Friday, 28 April 2006

Pride and Prejudice is officially an Icon of England. It was one of 21 new icons added yesterday to the 12 original selections announced in January.

There are now six books which have been accorded icon status. The other five are the Authorised Version of the Bible, Alice in Wonderland, The Lindisfarne Gospels, On the Origin of Species and Domesday Book. These last three were also added yesterday. (Brick Lane is on the list, but I suspect that they mean the street rather than the novel).

What is slightly surprising is that the works of Shakespeare have not made it on to the list (although the Globe Theatre has). Nor has anything by Dickens, although that may be because there is no single Dickens novel that stands far enough above the rest in public esteem the way that Pride and Prejudice does among Jane Austen's works.

I am tempted to nominate the Regency Period as an icon in its own right (I have already put in a nomination for The Archers). At present the early 19th Century is represented by P&P and by HMS Victory, so it may be pushing things to have an eleven year slice of history on top.

In any case I should be husbanding my resources for a more important icon. If we are going to celebrate Stonehenge, Big Ben and the Angel of the North as English icons, then surely we should also include that other giant emblem of Englishness, the Elephant.


Laura V said...

"that other giant emblem of Englishness, the Elephant."

There is the Elephant and Castle. Is that iconic and elephanty enough?

Liz Harris said...

Surprisingly, no glimpse of the famed Stiff Upper Lip in the list of icons, whether of elephantine proportions or otherwise.

Doug Hoffman said...

Does icon status confer any benefits?

That is one pregnant elephant.

Stephen said...

Does icon status confer any benefits?

I think that it means that the honoured things will be in the vanguard of the battle to save our English identity from the global cultural hegemony (for which read Mickey Mouse, MacDonalds, Coca-Cola and Budweiser).

Think Alice Liddell charging the hordes of cultural mediocrity astride a double-decker bus, armed only with a cricket bat, cup of tea and, if we can get the votes, a stiff upper lip.

That's why we need elephants.

Laura V said...

You think that riding on elephants, like Hannibal crossing the Alps, would be more effective than riding in a replica of Boudicca's chariot? Neither of them were particularly successful in warding off the cultural imperialists, so maybe Alice should be giving the red double-decker bus a go after all.

angryelephant said...

Who are you calling pregnant? Not all of us live on celery, you know. Some of us like buns.

Gabriele C. said...

That looks like what we call a beer belly rather than a bun belly. But since Budweiser is so un-British, Guiness an Irish emblem, and the English beers ... well, I won't quote my brother here - where did he get that nice belly from?

Doug Hoffman said...

Stephen, I think you're on to something. Personify all the icons and the cultural parasites like McDonald's, and set them at each other's throats. Kind of like Gaiman's American Gods only British, and without the gods!