The present paper starts from the assumptions and concepts of Zygmunt Bauman, George Ritzer and Jean Baudrillard concerning the regressive nature of the act of consumption and its “conceded freedoms” (Baudrillard), which infantilize the consumer and ensure high social integration and control. Barnes’s comic-satirical representation of the nation as theme-park may be interpreted in the light of the concept of post-tourism as a means of consumption (Ritzer), which encourages the preference for the replica and the simulacrum over the real and the authentic, as well as an inclination to playfulness, and which distinguishes itself from the traditional Grand Tour by its privileging of the pleasure principle over the reality principle. The touristification of historical memory accomplished in the extravagant project of “England, England,” meant to compensate for and redress the country from its state of decline, is shown to rely on the harnessing of the pleasure principle in the service of rational instrumentality, with its principles of calculability, efficiency and control, which commodify even the experience of regression.
Dr Cornelia Macsiniuc is Associate Professor of English Literature. Her research interests also include cultural and critical theory, postmodernism, utopian studies.