The pieces in this section generalize more broadly than the essays in other parts of the book. "America" figures as a large homogenous unit and as an idea held by inhabitants of the United States and by people in Europe and other countries. These final essays -- final in the sense of coming at the end of the volume, though written over a quarter of a century -- also betray a persistent interest in comparative themes. In one of Don DeLillo's richly speculative novels, The Names ( 1982), a character who happens to be an American archaeologist throws off a remark he does not attempt to explain, to the effect that he has sometimes thought of Europe as a hardcover publication, America as the paperback version. For me similar queries have kept presenting themselves. I have been puzzled to decide how far the United States grows out of a European heritage, how it differs, how and when such difference began, and to what extent the influence has spread outward from the United States as well as inward from elsewhere.
Thus, of the five essays in this Part IV, three examine European ideas about America and to a lesser extent what the United States has made of Europe. The theme of anti-Americanism, directly discussed in the final essay, treats the phenomenon more lightly than some of its predecessors. That reflects a growing belief on my part that anti-Americanism should not be treated by Americans merely or even mainly as the product of misinformation and spleen. I suggest that it may reflect the irritation of foreigners in the face of American xenophobia; also that anti-Americanism, so called, is a conspicuous feature of many comments by Americans themselves. Their anger and disappointment at what they sense as a loss of national integrity is to some degree a privileged, internal quarrel -- sometimes verging on hysteria, sometimes justified, but nearly always ultimately a credit to a society in which criticism can not only be accepted but in some circumstances actually demanded. If certain outsiders seek to bolster their own
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Publication information: Book title: In Search of America:Transatlantic Essays, 1951-1990. Contributors: Marcus Cunliffe - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1991. Page number: 305.