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Is too much irony damaging public life?

By Robert McCrum   July 2000

Dear Craig Brown

4th June 2000

The first thing you should know is that, married to an American, I might be presumed to live in an irony-free zone. As it happens, Sarah has a delightful wit and a lively apprehension of British humour, but I am conscious from people’s comments about Americans in general that irony is seen as a peculiarly British trait, like tea and crumpets or the stiff upper lip. A penchant for irony seems to be one of those defining characteristics, in which the rapier thrust of the nimble-minded ironist is contrasted favourably with the lumbering…

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