Bracewell’s “England is Mine” turns out to be excellent page by page, but a bit of a letdown overall. He’s taken as his basic thesis something entirely vagye and anodyne, namely nostalgia for the countryside within English culture and pop music. He calls this “Arcadia”, although it’s unclear what makes this a peculiarly English form different from the adoration of an imagined countryside that is present in just about every country in the world. Likewise, the breadth and commonness of the subject makes it hard to trace any intellectual ancestry for the views he describes: who is to say whether different longings for “Arcadia” are directly related, or just parallel expressions of the same common human urge?
That said, I’m only on page 37; all this could well be resolved later.