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In the world of Covid-19, many city dwellers have felt alienated from the large, crowded, human nests in which, in common with half of the world’s population, they live. As so many urban pleasures – restaurants and shops, theatres and concert halls, universities and museums – became dormant, British newspapers burgeoned with articles about escaping to the countryside. (“The countryside” is a concept that only exists in opposition to the city – pastoral poetry was invented as a literary genre in the third century BC by sophisticated urban Alexandrians exoticising rural life.)

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