Bertram Ingledew turns up in a Surrey village and promptly proceeds to reveal the taboos and absurdities of late 19th century life; as if the people he finds are members of a savage tribe, Bertram applies the techniques of an anthropologist. The class system, property ownership, marriage, and the status of women all come under scrutiny.
rettier than its wont just then, that town of villas, in the first fresh tenderness of its wan spring foliage, the first full flush of lilac, laburnum, horse- chestnut, and guelder-rose. The air was heavy with the odour of May and the hum of bees. Philip paused a while at the corner, by the ivied cottage, admiring it silently. He was glad he lived there-- so very aristocratic! What joy to glide direct, on the enchanted carpet of the South-Eastern Railway, from the gloom and din and bustle of Cannon Street, to the breadth and space and silence and exclusiveness of that upland village! For Philip Christy was a gentlemanly clerk in Her Majesty's Civil Service.
As he stood there admiring it all with roving eyes, he was startled after a moment by the sudden, and as it seemed to him unannounced apparition of a man in a well-made grey tweed suit, just a yard or two in front of him. He was aware of an intruder. To be sure, there was nothing very remarkable at first sight either in the stranger's dress, appeara
Very much a manifestation of late 19th century materialism, 'The British Barbarians' was written at a time when atheistic materialism and "higher criticism" (of the Bible) were emergent, contrasting the established order of traditional values and 'respectable' behaviours.
The rationalist struggle against the irrational, placed a wholehearted hope in the goodness of human nature freed from the shackles of taboos or customs. This optimism was unsullied by the soon to be unleashed attempt to impose a Marxist materialistic Utopia, Bolshevism, which we know today as communism.
The confident proclamation of the superiority of materialism and naturalism over "barbaric" superstition, taboos, spiritualism and traditions, seems contemporary, due to the continual efforts of modern Marxists and their heirs as well as the carefully timeless manner of the author's writing.
The author pokes and prods at the English society of 1895, a society soon to be demolished by the world wars of the twentieth century.
this is a great book on anthro-socio-ethno-centrism. pokes lots of fun at the english mores. great book almost can't tell that it was written in 1940's.