...but England will still be England, an everlasting animal stretching into the future and the past, and, like all living things, having the power to change out of recognition and yet remain the same.That sentence knocked me over, when I first read it. Looking back at it later, I wondered why it made such an impression. After all, it essentially says what the old proverb does: 'the more things change, the more they stay the same.'
Although there is some historical glamor to discovering some "new" truth, this experience reminds an individual how exciting (and more frequent) it can be to rediscover an old truth. Old truths become uninspiring as they devolve into bumper sticker slogans and one-liners. They become stale clichés.
An individual must stretch to see their own particular experiences as a thinly-disguised reprise of something larger and more universal. For instance I play with that idea when mountain biking in the western states, by seeing the mountain biker as the reincarnation of the cowboy-era archetype of the 'lone rider of the plains', who in turn was just a reincarnation of the European knight-errant of the Middle Ages.
I doubt that motor-sport people appreciate that connection. They probably think that a mountain biker is just a health nut/exercise puritan.
Do you think that they see their sport as the reinvention of something noble and timeless? Perhaps they do, but I can't imagine what it would be.
More generally, creative re-invention is the purpose of reading classic books, quite unlike many people's notion that one reads them just for the snob appeal, or as a form of literary ancestor worship.