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Bring on the hypnotist

Neal Ascherson, 12 March 1992

After the Fall: The Failure of Communism and the Future of Socialism 
edited by Robin Blackburn.
Verso, 327 pp., £32.95, November 1991, 0 86091 540 9
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... of the Bolshevik Revolution, allowing everyone to see how complicated and ‘reciprocal’ (E.P. Thompson’s word) that world order was. The Communist ‘threat’ induced the West to construct a new model of welfare capitalism based on full employment – the model whose utterly unforeseen ‘Thirty Glorious Years’ produced the most rapid and widespread ...

Fiery Participles

D.A.N. Jones, 6 September 1984

Hazlitt: The Mind of a Critic 
by David Bromwich.
Oxford, 450 pp., £19.50, March 1984, 0 19 503343 4
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William Godwin: Philosopher, Novelist, Revolutionary 
by Peter Marshall.
Yale, 496 pp., £14.95, June 1984, 0 521 24386 6
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Burke, Paine, Godwin and the Revolution Controversy 
edited by Marilyn Butler.
Cambridge, 280 pp., £25, June 1984, 0 521 24386 6
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... on ‘as Hazlitt rightly observed’. He accepts Hazlitt’s judgments as trustingly as E.P. Thompson did, in The Making of the English Working Class. Similarly, in her collection of ‘English Prose Texts’, Burke, Paine, Godwin and the Revolution Controversy, Marilyn Butler finds it useful to quote Hazlitt when she has to introduce the dull writings ...

The Monte Lupo Story

Simon Schama, 18 September 1980

Faith, Reason and the Plague 
by Carlo Cipolla.
Harvester, 112 pp., £7.50, November 1980, 0 85527 506 5
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... ephemeral sources, ingenious and gifted historians such as Richard Cobb, Olwen Hufton and E.P. Thompson have produced masterpieces of historical reconstruction in which the lives of the obscure and the downtrodden are given the front of the stage. There was, and is, a serious purpose in viewing élite culture and its politics from the perspective of the ...

Reach-Me-Down Romantic

Terry Eagleton: For and Against Orwell, 19 June 2003

George Orwell 
by Gordon Bowker.
Little, Brown, 495 pp., £20, May 2003, 0 316 86115 4
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Orwell: The Life 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 448 pp., £20, June 2003, 0 7011 6919 2
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Orwell: Life and Times 
by Scott Lucas.
Haus, 180 pp., £8.99, April 2003, 1 904341 33 0
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... and flamboyant gesture which recalls some of the less reputable political writings of E.P. Thompson. (Thompson was no fan of Orwell, perhaps in part because he saw in him an image of his own romantic emotivism and self-conscious idiosyncratic bluffness.) Orwell was for the most part incapable of giving an oblique ...

Against it

Ross McKibbin, 24 February 1994

For the Sake of Argument 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Verso, 353 pp., £19.95, May 1993, 0 86091 435 6
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... here it includes Trotsky and the Trotskyites, the anarchists and oppositional Marxists like E.P. Thompson. Trotsky, whose career engages Hitchens (‘he remains the century’s most arresting instance of the aesthete and intellectual in politics’), and the anarchists make very incompatible bedfellows, while Edward ...

Counting weapons

Rudolf Peierls, 5 March 1981

Britain and Nuclear Weapons 
by Lawrence Freedman.
Papermac, 160 pp., £3.25, September 1980, 0 333 30511 6
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Countdown: Britain’s Strategic Forces 
by Stewart Menual.
Hale, 188 pp., £8.25, October 1980, 0 7091 8592 8
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The War Machine 
by James Avery Joyce.
Quartet, 210 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 7043 2254 4
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Protest and Survive 
edited by E.P. Thompson and Dan Smith.
Penguin, 262 pp., £1.50, October 1980, 0 14 052341 3
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... by the Civil Defence Pamphlet Protect and Survive) is a collection of essays, edited by E. P. Thompson and Dan Smith, with emphasis on the effect of nuclear weapons on Europe, and particularly on Britain, and on current statements dealing with Civil Defence. An impressive article by Alva Myrdal discusses the function of tactical nuclear weapons, and ...

English Marxists in dispute

Roy Porter, 17 July 1980

Arguments within English Marxism 
by Perry Anderson.
New Left Books, 218 pp., £3.95, May 1980, 0 86091 727 4
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Capitalism, State Formation and Marxist Theory 
edited by Philip Corrigan.
Quartet, 232 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 0 7043 2241 2
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Writing by Candlelight 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin, 286 pp., £2.70, May 1980, 0 85036 257 1
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... in particular have been summarily attacked as weeds. The hot temper of so many responses to Edward Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class (1963) indicates that many scholars, herbicide to hand, regard Marxist historiography as a menace. Professor J.H. Hexter’s recent ad hominem assault on Christopher Hill’s scholarly integrity seems to reveal ...

Sexual Politics

Michael Neve, 5 February 1981

Edward Carpenter, 1844-1929: Prophet of Human Fellowship 
by Chushichi Tsuzuki.
Cambridge, 237 pp., £15, November 1980, 0 521 23371 2
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... Peculiar alliances are struck over this dislike, most notably between Taylor himself and E.P. Thompson. The two men united in their pronouncements as to the emptiness of Carpenter’s ‘individualism’, the weedy, private-income vegetarianism that he embodied, the hopeless blend of mysticism and retreatism that took the place of politics. The now ...

F for Felon

Roy Porter, 4 April 2002

Policing and Punishment in London 1660-1750: Urban Crime and the Limits of Terror 
by J.M. Beattie.
Oxford, 491 pp., £48, July 2001, 0 19 820867 7
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... justice system were decisively challenged a generation ago by the bold reformulations of E.P. Thompson and his co-workers. In a series of inspirational writings – an edited volume, Albion’s Fatal Tree: Crime and Society in 18th-Century England (1975), and a brace of books: Whigs and Hunters: The Origin of the Black Act (1975) and Customs in Common ...

Why Darcy would not have married Elizabeth Bennet

Linda Colley: Women in Georgian England, 3 September 1998

The Gentleman’s Daughter: Women’s Lives in Victorian England 
by Amanda Vickery.
Yale, 436 pp., £19.95, May 1998, 0 300 07531 6
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... this book that it is set in the same English counties, Lancashire and Yorkshire, where E.P. Thompson based The Making of the English Working Class. To what extent, then, and in what ways, did Tom Paine and his labouring and artisan disciples alter the worldview of the female genteel? Certainly women of this kind in other parts of the country felt that ...

It’s a riot

Michael Ignatieff, 20 August 1981

‘Civil Disturbances’: Hansard, Vol. 8, Nos 143-144, 16 July 1981 – 17 July 1981 
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... which triggers riot. Historical analogy with the 18th-century food riots, examined by E.P. Thompson, suggests that explanation should look beyond conditions to the specific legitimising notion or incident which gives reason to riot. In Toxteth, for example, it was not just any arrest which started the trouble but the arrest of the son of a Jamaican ...

Through the Mill

Jane Humphries: The Industrial Revolution, 20 March 2014

Liberty’s Dawn: A People’s History of the Industrial Revolution 
by Emma Griffin.
Yale, 303 pp., £12.99, March 2014, 978 0 300 20525 1
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... therefore, that contributors to the first wave of ‘history from below’, including E.P. Thompson, used working-class memoirs so sparingly, cherry-picking from already known and accessible texts. But this soon changed. John Burnett used annotated extracts to illustrate various aspects of working-class life in Useful Toil and Destiny Obscure. By ...

Happy Campers

Ellen Meiksins Wood: G.A. Cohen, 28 January 2010

Why Not Socialism? 
by G.A. Cohen.
Princeton, 83 pp., £10.95, September 2009, 978 0 691 14361 3
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... been powerfully challenged, especially by historians working in the Marxist tradition, from E.P. Thompson to Robert Brenner; and the old technological determinism was already giving way to very different interpretations of Marx. Cohen’s account of Marx’s theory of history, for all its ‘analytic’ refinements and ‘functional’ explanations, in the ...

Is It Glamorous?

David Simpson: Stefan Collini among the Intellectuals, 6 March 2008

Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain 
by Stefan Collini.
Oxford, 544 pp., £16.99, July 2005, 0 19 929105 5
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... Collini makes no place for any equivalent consideration of the careers of Raymond Williams, E.P. Thompson, C.L.R. James and others whose impact on the political sphere was arguably greater. The price Perry Anderson pays for being discussed at length here is to be regarded as an example of an ‘intellectualist’ tendency that arranges a list of big names ...

Putting on Some English

Terence Hawkes: Eagleton’s Rise, 7 February 2002

The Gatekeeper: A Memoir 
by Terry Eagleton.
Allen Lane, 178 pp., £9.99, January 2002, 0 7139 9590 4
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... shift from Catholicism to Marxism, of a silent father, and an oral examination conducted by E.P. Thompson, not only give compelling glimpses of Eagleton’s experience: they also offer a consistently agile and admirably trenchant diagnosis of the kind of spin that the academic study of literature was designed to put on the world. Like Wilde, Eagleton uses ...

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