chapter  7
18 Pages

Sharpening the Mind

The German Menace and Edwardian National Identity
WithHarry Wood

The prospect of invasion in Edwardian Britain, imagined so regularly and vividly in contemporary invasion-scare novels, is generally considered to have been no laughing matter. The British population, largely unconcerned by the unfolding invasion disaster, appear far more interested in the county cricket scores. The chapter highlights the link between British national identity and the 'German Menace'. In imagining external threats to the cultural and political status quo, Edwardian invasion narratives produced specific understandings of Britishness, and the way in which these values or qualities were threatened by German invasion. The clearest expression of this 'presumption' in Edwardian invasion literature is the interchangeable quality of the terms England and Britain. The prominence of Home Rule themes in British invasion literature not only highlights the prevalence of domestic political issues in this fiction; it also reminds us that Ireland occupied a position of primacy in the Edwardian political consciousness.