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Schadenfreude with Bite

Richard Seymour: Trolling, 15 December 2016

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture 
by Whitney Phillips.
MIT, 256 pp., £10, September 2016, 978 0 262 52987 7
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Gendertrolling: How Misogyny Went Viral 
by Karla Mantilla.
Praeger, 280 pp., £32, August 2015, 978 1 4408 3317 5
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Bad Clowns 
by Benjamin Radford.
New Mexico, 188 pp., £12, February 2016, 978 0 8263 5666 6
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Trolls: An Unnatural History 
by John Lindow.
Reaktion, 60 pp., £9.99, August 2015, 978 1 78023 565 3
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... maintaining that it’s all in good fun and shouldn’t be taken (too) seriously’. According to John Lindow’s ‘unnatural history’ of trolls, the original trolls of Scandinavian folklore punished improper behaviour and upheld social norms. If you take the behavioural code of lulz seriously and erase any commitment to social norms, what you are ...

Jigsaw Mummies

Tom Shippey: Pagan Britain, 6 November 2014

Pagan Britain 
by Ronald Hutton.
Yale, 480 pp., £25, November 2013, 978 0 300 19771 6
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The King in the North: The Life and Times of Oswald of Northumbria 
by Max Adams.
Head of Zeus, 450 pp., £25, August 2013, 978 1 78185 418 1
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... near the centre of Woodhenge was for a long time thought to be a victim of a barbaric ritual, like Lindow Man, who seems to have been strangled, hit on the head and had his throat cut; but in 2000 it was realised that the child’s skull had parted along unclosed suture lines – no axe was involved. She may have been buried normally and reverently. Hutton ...

Bardism

Tom Shippey: The Druids, 9 July 2009

Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain 
by Ronald Hutton.
Yale, 491 pp., £30, May 2009, 978 0 300 14485 7
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... the service of preconceived ideas. The ‘interpretative status’ of the 2000-year-old body of Lindow Man, recovered from a peat bog in Cheshire and apparently ritually killed in three ways, by club, garrotte and knife, with mistletoe pollen in his stomach, is ‘thoroughly insecure’: the garrotte could be a corroded necklace, the four grains of pollen ...

Little Brits

Tom Shippey: Murder on Hadrian’s Wall, 19 November 2015

The Real Lives of Roman Britain 
by Guy de la Bédoyère.
Yale, 241 pp., £20, May 2015, 978 0 300 20719 4
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... What​ have the Romans ever done for us?’ John Cleese asks in Monty Python’s Life of Brian. His audience, not realising his question is rhetorical, replies: aqueducts, sanitation, medicine, public order, etc etc. Guy de la Bédoyère, on the other hand, doesn’t need a list: the Romans’ most important legacy, he suggests in his new book, is literacy, and specifically the habit of written memorialisation ...

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