October 2, 2022 | 12:00 noon
An Anglophile is a person who is not English yet is a great admirer of English language, history and culture. I consider myself a Filipino nationalist whose first love is my country, but I also consider myself a Filipino Anglophile. Because of this, I watched every minute of the ceremony and all the rituals surrounding the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Even when I missed some of the ceremonies I made sure I could watch replays so I could see everything in full.
So this column is a confession of why I became a Filipino Anglophile. I was fascinated by the English culture and language from my high school and college years before my first trip to London and England. Please note that there is a distinct difference between the English and American languages.
The first attraction I had were the tales of chivalry and chivalry that were prevalent in English literature. Aside from the tales of King Arthur, Lancelot, Guinevere and the Knights of the Round Table, there were other books like Ivanhoe and Lorna Doone that drew me to my high school days. I don’t know of any similar stories from other countries. If I had read French literature, there might have been similarities.
This fascination with England was cemented when I began to travel and visit London and Edinburgh on these personal visits. For me, the National Museum and the War Museum in London are the best museums in the world, even if you include the Louvre in the list.
Some of my more memorable moments from visiting museums have been walking through the inside of a pyramid. The War Museum also had a walk-through room that featured a recreation of the Normandy landings with sound effects. Then there was a much larger room showing a history of all the uniforms worn by warriors in English history. That’s why I was able to appreciate the military parades that showed soldiers in uniforms of famous English regiments like the Coldstream Guards.
Another famous landmark for me was Charing Cross Street, which had the most specialist bookshops that I have not seen anywhere else.
For example, some bookstores specialize in the Middle Ages, the Middle East, art history, and economics. Down the street was my favorite bookstore called Foyle’s. It was housed in a multi-story building. Although the books were divided by category, there was no order in the way they were displayed. It was by far the messiest and most chaotic bookstore I have ever seen in the world. But the most amazing thing about the bookstores were the salespeople, who were knowledgeable experts in the field of study they were supposed to work in.
For example, in the large section labeled “Military Department” one can discuss the military geniuses and books on military strategies and specific battles and wars with the staff. They could even recommend specific books if you told them the strategist or war you wanted to read about.
Then there’s the West End, the center of English theater in the world. There are others who will vouch for Broadway as the theater capital of the world; I always thought it couldn’t be considered authentic unless the plays were shown in London’s West End.
The greatness of a country’s culture can also be reflected in the books that have been written about a country’s culture and history. History is my favorite subject and I have read literally dozens if not hundreds of history books since college. There is still one book that, in my opinion, is unsurpassed when it comes to telling the story of a country and its culture. This is The Birth of Britain: A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. When I first read the book, I couldn’t believe it was written by Winston S. Churchill, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom who led his nation in the dark days of World War II.
He began writing the book six years before the start of World War II. He was forced to quit during the war and resumed writing the book after the war ended. It was first published by Dodd, Mead & Company in 1956.
I highly recommend this book not only to Anglophiles but also to anyone interested in English history and culture. Reviewing the book, the New York Times called it, “A memorable story illuminated by flashes of inspiration, the character and style of our common race.”
The book is actually a story about the beginning of England as a nation. It is divided into three books: Book One, The Island Race. It covers the period before the Romans conquered England. It ended with the Romans leaving England and eventually the rise of the first English king, Alfred the Great, who unified the various warring kingdoms of England.
Book Two is The Making of the Nations, which begins with the Norman invasion of William the Conqueror; English Common Law, Magna Carta and the beginning of Parliament and ends with the Black Death, the plague that killed millions of people in Europe.
Book Three is the end of the feudal age beginning with the reign of King Richard II, the social revolt, the empire of Henry V, Joan of Arc and the reign of King Richard III. ends. It features the intriguing War of the Roses between the Houses of York and Lancaster for supremacy in England.
Despite the fact that England is no longer the superpower it once was, no one can dispute that the English language is the world’s dominant language and that English culture has shaped western civilization more than any other culture.
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