Friday 3 April 2020
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.theguardian - 8 days ago

From splendid to stressful: a short history of isolation

Not that long ago, the concept of isolation was seen as something of a luxury“Isolation is the sum-total of wretchedness to man,” wrote the historian Thomas Carlyle in 1843, which might sound dispiriting today. But he did not mean the confinement of quarantine. Rather, he meant the social isolation of every person in a country already worshipping what he called the “Mammon Gospel”.The word was still new in English: even the verb “isolate” is unrecorded before the 19th century. It comes from the Latin insulare, literally meaning “to make into an island”. Indeed, the cliched formula “splendid isolation” derives from someone talking about an island nation: in 1896, the Canadian prime minister described Britain as “splendidly isolated … this isolation of England comes from her superiority”. Continue reading...

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