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Synopsis

Never overstep the mark

Moderation-a treasured ideal-means a lot to the English. Their respect for it is reflected in their shared dislike of any person who “goes too far.”

 

Irrational rationality

The English can admire something without enjoying it, or enjoy something they suspect is fundamentally reprehensible. You can never be sure which stance they are going to take-the reassuringly reasonable, or the wildly irrational.

 

I'm fine, really

Stoicism, the capacity to greet life's vicissitudes with cheerful calm, is an essential ingredient of Englishness.

 

Push-me, pull-you

Two equally fundamental but contradictory English characteristics are a love of continuity and a yearning for change. In the English character these two opposite desires vie with each other constantly, which produces some curious behavior patterns and several characteristics most usually observed in the classic split personality.

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