chapter  6
18 Pages

The Place of the Pig

Blandings, Barsetshire and Britain
WithDebra Rae Cohen

While P.G. Wodehouse’s Blandings Castle may be located at the intersection of Shropshire and the Forest of Arden, and Angela Thirkell’s Barsetshire at the corner of Trollope and the twentieth century, both versions of middlebrow pastoral, the atemporal and the elegiac, endorse the notion that it is in ‘the piggeries […] where perhaps part of the true England lives’ (LATR 324). In each, ‘pig-mindedness’ – a term around which each author constellates a host of positive individual and communal qualities – serves as an index of national identity, expressed by each author as a different relation to time, change, economics and history. One can in fact read Thirkell’s post-war novels, in which pig-mindedness serves as a barometer for a changing nation, as a contemporary comment on the seeming arcadian changelessness of Blandings, in which the unchallengeable devotion of Lord Emsworth to his prize pig, Empress of Blandings, serves as an emblem of certainty, a locus of Deep England.