Contemporary Britain is fascinated by the nation’s cultural barometer.

The rise and fall of Britpop is charted in the broadsheet press as well as in

the music glossies. People who rarely step inside an art gallery watch with

fascination the progress of Tracey Emin, Gavin Turk, Damien Hurst and

the rest of the Britart pack. The publication of Granta’s Best Young British

Writers list also commands the attention of those who never have and

never will read a single novel by any of the mentioned authors. And the

fortunes of the British film industry, which ebb and flow with remarkable

rapidity, are followed nearly as closely as those of the financial markets.