Peter Mandler

Peter Mandler, who teaches at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, is writing a history of the idea of the English national character.

Gold out of Straw: Samuel Smiles

Peter Mandler, 19 February 2004

The problem the 20th century had with Samuel Smiles’s Self-Help was that the conjunction of ‘self’ and ‘help’ sounded too much like the opposite of the welfare state. Smiles’s creed, it was assumed, was Thatcherism of the crudest ‘on yer bike’ sort, all the more regrettable for being so far avant la lettre. Smiles was, in fact, a radical,...

It is as­sumed that there is an uncomplicated thing called ‘talent’ or ‘ability’, and that some people have more of it than others. It is also assumed – pretty much as a fact of nature, it seems...

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The Swaddling Thesis: Margaret Mead

Thomas Meaney, 6 March 2014

In​ 1957, in a remote village on the south coast of Bali, the young anthropologist Clifford Geertz was watching a cremation ceremony spill down a hillside when the crowd suddenly parted,...

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Hugh Dalton to the rescue

Keith Thomas, 13 November 1997

The stately home is England’s most characteristic contribution to international tourism. Many countries have old houses which are open to the public. But neither the châteaux of the...

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Here’s to the high-minded

Stefan Collini, 7 April 1994

In the Seventies and Eighties, right-wing think-tanks and their academic lapdogs put about the idea that the ills of contemporary Britain were fundamentally due to its genteel aversion to...

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