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Thread: Are national cultures fashioned by their country's Golden Age ?

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  1. #1
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    Question Are national cultures fashioned by their country's Golden Age ?

    Most of the great nations and cultural groups have had one or several golden ages in their history. For example, England's golden age is said to have been under the rule of Elisabeth I, at the time of Shakespeare, Walter Raleigh and Francis Drake. That of Britain as a whole was undeniably the 19th and early 20th century. Spain like to look back at the glorious days of the 16th and early 17th century. This also works for small countries. Belgium has never had a higher international prestige and a more thriving artistic period then from the late 19th to the early 20th century.

    When thinking about that it dawned on me that modern national cultures probably owe a lot to their respective golden ages. The Japanese like to dream about the old days of the Edo era (1603-1867) and imitate their ancestors and try to preserve the style and values of this perceived golden age.

    The Brits started to speak with their characteristic posh accent in the 19th century. English sounded very different before that. But people are trying to fight for the survival of this idealised historical period, and the previous Elizabethan golden age when they want to sound old-fashioned ("are thou not..."), while blissfully forgetting the variations in accent and style in between (17th and 18th century) or before that. But it isn't just the way of speaking. Traditional British suits, wool jumper, cricket-style sportswear, and so on, all date back to the Victorian or Edwardian golden age.

    The so-called classical French style of architecture, furniture and decoration, still much in vogue among the wealthy, originated with Louis XIV and perfected itself until Louis XVI, the grandest period in French history. Why don't the French like better a more recent style, like the Belle Epoque of the early 20th century, for instance, but are obsessed with that Bourbon style ? That's because it is representative of the period of history that make people dream and wonder in amazement, a golden age. That's why French presidents, ministers or diplomats will have offices in good classical 18th-century style, while their British counterparts will prefer something from the later Victorian period to impress their guests or symbolise the nation.

    So just how much impact does a country's golden age have on its modern culture ? And how many centuries can pass before people start forgetting ? After all we still build Greco-Roman style edifices...

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    What a bloody good point!

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    Ive wondered about this also.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Elisabeth I, at the time of Shakespeare, Walter Raleigh and Francis Drake. That of Britain as a whole was undeniably the 19th and early 20th century.

    The Japanese like to dream about the old days of the Edo era (1603-1867) and imitate their ancestors and try to preserve the style and values of this perceived golden age.

    blissfully forgetting the variations

    Louis XVI, the grandest period in French history. Why don't the French like better a more recent style, like the Belle Epoque of the early 20th century, for instance, but are obsessed with that Bourbon style ? That's because it is representative of the period of history that make people dream and wonder in amazement, a golden age.

    forgetting ? After all we still build Greco-Roman style edifices...
    These are pretty broad. If you write on this with research let me know. Ill read it.
    Here are some points tho... Japan had Tokugawa and Heian periods before. Isn't the period of Genji most fundamental to their modern idea of old? And the people writing Genji and the Pillow Book, were they writing modern lit? Weren't they looking at Chinese culture as sort of "gold"ish? Golden ages or civilization ideals look to an era that is appealing at that moment. Romantics looked to one golden age, Classicals looked to another. Moderns look to neither of these two sources. It changes with asthetics and agenda.

    France and England. England has had a lot of Rulers. Elizabethan is the oldest great one we have lots of works, and that we understand what the works mean culturally. The Arthurian legends of England and Ireland that Marie of France patronized in knightly courts was another forming age, but we dont have much from it or from before, plus they are not readable, and not really comprehensible to modern readers. If you read commentary on de Troyes, Marie's great poet, you will see how little this master is understood by modern readers.

    All these golden periods were the products of patronage that came thru military dominance and economic exploitation. They were rich.

    Im just writing a few points. Dont have time to write an essay on it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by interest View Post
    Here are some points tho... Japan had Tokugawa and Heian periods before. Isn't the period of Genji most fundamental to their modern idea of old?
    The Tokugawa period and Edo period are the same thing. There were many other periods before (Azuchi-Momoyama, Muromachi, Kamakura...), but the one that modern Japanese feel closest to is the Edo period. It's the one that dominates the common subconscious, the one about which the most TV series and films are made, the most books written...

    The Heian era is famous for Genji, but it's not the oldest period.

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    Greece's golden age was around 500-300 BC, and it definitely has an impact nowadays. From the way people think and talk to the way we build our buildings and landmarks.

    http://www.ahistoryofgreece.com/goldenage.htm

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    Yes, that seems to be true. Now the Chinese from China is reviving their traditional costumes. They were not allowed to wear aristocratic traditional costumes during the Cultural Revolution and the Deng Xiao Ping epoch. These days the Chinese “Qipao” is back in Fashion, and some universities now use traditional Tang Dynasties' robes for graduations.

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    Spain like to look back at the glorious days of the 16th and early 17th century.
    Sorry, but I have to disagree with that. In Spain we mostly try to forget about it.

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