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Making things happen

Ross McKibbin, 26 July 1990

Heroes and Villains: Selected Essays 
by R.W. Johnson.
Harvester, 347 pp., £25, July 1990, 9780745007359
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... diaries and Hilary Wainwright’s Labour: A Tale of Two Parties) and ‘Raymond Williams and E.P. Thompson’. The first began, I imagine, simply as a critique of the Bennite Left and ended (famously) as a critique of Neil Kinnock. It argued that the political judgments and electoral sociology upon which the Bennites had based their strategies were ...

Examples

Denis Donoghue, 2 February 1984

Towards 2000 
by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 273 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 9780701126858
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Writing in Society 
by Raymond Williams.
Verso, 268 pp., £18.50, December 1983, 0 86091 072 5
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Radical Earnestness: English Social Theory 1880-1980 
by Fred Inglis.
Martin Robertson, 253 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 85520 328 5
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... as he calls him – Richard Titmuss, Richard Hoggart, Raymond Williams, John Berger, E.P. Thompson and Isaiah Berlin. If you need a stereotype of the English socialist, you may as well take this one as any other, though it’s hard to do any worthwhile thinking so long as you burden yourself with such a thing. I infer from Inglis’s reference to ...

Rolodex Man

Mark Kishlansky, 31 October 1996

Liberty against the Law: Some 17th-Century Controversies 
by Christopher Hill.
Allen Lane, 354 pp., £25, April 1996, 0 7139 9119 4
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The Rise and Fall of Revolutionary England: An Essay on the Fabrication of 17th-Century History 
by Alastair MacLaclan.
Macmillan, 431 pp., £13.99, April 1996, 0 333 62009 7
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... It is becoming difficult to remember how influential Christopher Hill once was. When E.P. Thompson dedicated Whigs and Hunters to ‘Christopher Hill – Master of more than an old Oxford college’ he was recognising Hill’s stature as a historian, academic and public figure. From his perch as Master of Balliol, he presided over the education of future mandarins and exerted an influence on the intellectual life of Britain ...

Solitary Reapers

Christopher Salvesen, 5 June 1980

The Dark Side of the Landscape: The Rural Poor in English Painting 1730-1840 
by John Barrell.
Cambridge, 179 pp., £15, March 1980, 0 521 22509 4
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... era and the image that we derive from various pictorial and literary sources. The work of E.P. Thompson is invoked to remind us that the labourers in the fields were often impoverished, exploited and degraded. In three essays and an introduction Dr Barrell looks at the figures in the paintings of Gains borough, George Morland and Constable in order to ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: What on earth should I talk about? , 4 March 1982

... situation, and human civilisation will be destroyed. There is some cheer on the other side. E.P. Thompson, leader of CND, has recently delivered his banned BBC lecture, ‘Beyond the Cold War’,* at Worcester City Guildhall with the approval of the city fathers. Evidently Worcester is a most enlightened city. Thompson is ...

Final Jam

Michael Irwin, 2 June 1988

The Sykaos Papers 
by E.P. Thompson.
Bloomsbury, 482 pp., £13.95, May 1988, 0 7475 0117 3
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... of nautical jargon and Swift can maroon his unlucky hero and get down to satirical business. Thompson has equipment to sort out. Oi Paz must be provided with a Translator, a device that can ‘command any language through a process of recording, sorting into grammatical parts, decoding and storing of vocabulary’. Thus assisted, he can soon speak and ...

Principal Ornament

José Harris, 3 December 1992

G.M. Trevelyan: A life in History 
by David Cannadine.
HarperCollins, 288 pp., £18, September 1992, 0 00 215872 8
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... the wide readership and powerful television presence of historians such as A.J.P. Taylor, E.P. Thompson, Asa Briggs, and Cannadine himself, suggest that although history may no longer define communal national consciousness it has not lost its capacity to engage and entertain a large mass of individuals. Cannadine admits that Trevelyan was ‘not powerfully ...

At Tate Britain

Frank Kermode: William Blake, 14 December 2000

... design? Michael Mason, in his Oxford edition, would say it receives no benefit at all. E.P. Thompson was equally firm. His long and detailed study of ‘London’ is interested in Blake the radical, and he studies the poem entirely as a matter of language. It is certainly of interest that the word ‘charter’d’ made its way into the poem in a ...

A Kind of Greek

Jeremy Harding: Frank Thompson, 7 March 2013

A Very English Hero: The Making of Frank Thompson 
by Peter Conradi.
Bloomsbury, 419 pp., £18.99, August 2012, 978 1 4088 0243 4
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... canvas of the Cold War were already under way in the Balkans in the summer of 1944 when Frank Thompson was executed. Bulgaria was a member of the Axis and Frank, older brother of the historian E.P. Thompson, was on a mission in the country for Special Operations Executive: the idea was that anti-Nazi partisans should be ...

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 ...

Yawning and Screaming

John Bayley, 5 February 1987

Jane Austen 
by Tony Tanner.
Macmillan, 291 pp., £20, November 1986, 0 333 32317 3
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... is there to be made use of, and everyone makes use of it in his own way. Christopher Hill and E.P. Thompson invent alternative Englands where radical social experiments were nipped in the bud by the entrenched forces of reaction, while T.S. Eliot’s successors imagine devout cavaliers preserving a unified sensibility in economic and spiritual matters. Apart ...

Fiction and the Poverty of Theory

John Sutherland, 20 November 1986

News from Nowhere 
by David Caute.
Hamish Hamilton, 403 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 241 11920 0
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O-Zone 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 469 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 241 11948 0
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Ticket to Ride 
by Dennis Potter.
Faber, 202 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 9780571145232
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... brought about the desired upsurge. An older generation of Marxists (led by the unvanquished E.P. Thompson) have counter-attacked with the ‘poverty of theory’ and continued to assert the validity of a traditional British socialist heritage going back at least to the 17th century. All this is given full play in Caute’s narrative. Richard Stern is a young ...

Hey, Mister, you want dirty book?

Edward Said: The CIA, 30 September 1999

Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War 
by Frances Stonor Saunders.
Granta, 509 pp., £20, July 1999, 1 86207 029 6
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... E.P. Thompson called it the ‘Natopolitan’ world: that is, not just Nato plus all the Cold War military and political institutions that were integral to it, but also a mentality whose web extended over a lot more activity and thought, even in the minds of individuals, than anyone at the time had suspected. Of course there were the revelations in the mid-Sixties about Encounter and the CIA, and later in the US and Britain a stream of disclosures about covert counter-insurgency in every form, from secretly underwritten academic research to assassinations and mass killings ...

Post-Nationalism

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 3 December 1992

English Questions 
by Perry Anderson.
Verso, 370 pp., £39.95, May 1992, 0 86091 375 9
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A Zone of Engagement 
by Perry Anderson.
Verso, 384 pp., £39.95, May 1992, 0 86091 377 5
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... of its ‘long national tradition’. Sentimentally, he now recalls, they offended patriots (E.P. Thompson especially). ‘Intellectually, they disturbed canonical Marxist opinion, as transmitted from Capital. Politically, they nettled the Labourism of reformists and the ouvriérisme of revolutionaries.’ In the beginning, they recovered two sets of ...

Scenes from Common Life

V.G. Kiernan, 1 November 1984

A Radical Reader: The Struggle for Change in England 1381-1914 
edited by Christopher Hampton.
Penguin, 624 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 14 022444 0
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Riots and Community Politics in England and Wales 1790-1810 
by John Bohstedt.
Harvard, 310 pp., £12.50, November 1983, 0 674 77120 6
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The World We have Lost – Further Explored 
by Peter Laslett.
Methuen, 353 pp., £12.95, December 1983, 0 416 35340 1
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... kitchens as well as sabres, ‘aggressive and efficient philanthropy’. Bohstedt goes beyond E.P. Thompson in rejecting any crude equation between hunger and protest; ‘links between hardship and collective violence’ were on his showing very complex. The World We Have Lost came out first in 1965, established itself before long as a landmark in research ...

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