name of country?
althouse at FACSTAFF.WISC.EDU
Thu Jan 25 12:21:40 PST 2001
>>There is a pretty interesting work of fiction examining the issue. (I can't
>>vouch for its historical accuracy.) It's called "A Country With No Name:
>>Tales from the Constitution," by Sebastian De Grazia (who won the Pulitzer
>>Prize for "Machiavelli in Hell"). I'd love to hear opinions from anyone
>>familiar with this
>I'm delighted that Ann mentioned this book. I thought it was terrifically
>imaginative (though not entirely successful as a work of fiction in terms
>of the characters, rather than the ideas). I tried with no success to get
>the History Book Club to offer it because it did teach so well the tensions
>about American ontology and explain why it is that we could never come up
>with a different name from the completely ambiguous one we've got.
Ah, great. I'm glad to hear you liked it. It is indeed full of amazing
insights and unusual takes on things. For example, De Grazia's character
steadfastly refers to the Constitution as the second Constitution and the
Articles of Confederation as the first Constitution.
For example, re the Declaration of Independence, discussed in some of the
earlier posts, it calls attention to the writting at the top, not just the
lowercasing of "united" but the way "united" is extremely tiny, whereas
"States of America" is huge. You can see the facsimile of the document at:
DeGrazia also has something to say about the use of the word "the" in the
nonname of the country. The use of "the" could be said to give away that
it's a description not a proper name. We say, "the man" but not "the
George," for example, except when speaking jocosely.
I agree with Sandy that the story of the two characters (the book is a
dialogue, essentially) to the extent that they have a relationship is
unsatisfying. I would say, cheesy.
More information about the Conlawprof