In one of James Joyce’s letters, he assigns each of the Seven Deadly Sins to a nation in Europe. Ireland is, of course, Envy. Germany, delightfully, gets Lust. Gluttony, he said, was English, Pride French, Wrath Spanish, Avarice Italy, and the Slavic countries, collectively, Sloth.

Along similar lines, it struck me that it would be fun to match up European countries with U.S. States when a friend of mine dismissively described Belgium as ‘the Kentucky of Europe’. Here are a few ideas along these lines:

  • Bavaria = Texas. Yes, I know Bavaria isn’t a country, but this works on too many fronts. Both are large, semi-autonomous, countrified southern entities with a similar kind of hospitable/jingoistic vibe. (Plus, this gives me a chance to poke fun at the Central European proclivity for Country Western:


  • Czech Republic = Ohio. Industrial, Midwestern, practical. Both have a tendency towards tiny bath towels– no, wait, that’s only Czech.
  • France = New York. Both have capital cities that were once the center of the world but are now of diminished global significance. Both tend to live in denial of this fact.
  • Netherlands = Massachusetts. Small, progressive, mercantile, weirdo. Similar strange mixture of ideological open-mindedness and conservative impulses.
  • Sweden & Norway = Minnesota & Wisconsin. Duh.
  • There’s probably a Balkans-Arkansas joke in here somewhere.

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