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Sexual Nonconformism

Peter Laslett, 24 January 1980

Wanton Wenches and Wayward Wives: Peasants and Illicit Sex in Early 17th Century England 
by G.R. Quaife.
Croom Helm, 283 pp., £11.50, July 1980, 0 7099 0062 7
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A History of Myddle 
by Richard Gough, edited by Peter Razzell.
Caliban, 184 pp., £9, October 1980, 0 904573 14 1
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... this aspect of the history of English life which has been re-edited and regrettably shortened by Peter Razzell. In Gough’s History of Myddle we have a unique contemporary account of all that went forward in a Cheshire parish and its surrounding district in the fifty or so years before about 1700. Here is an example of how the man writes: ‘This Richard ...

Fallacies

Peter Laslett, 19 February 1987

Sex in Middlesex: Popular Mores in a Massachusetts County 1649-1699 
by Roger Thompson.
Massachusetts, 252 pp., £28.50, October 1986, 0 87023 516 8
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Breasts, Bottles and Babies: A History of Infant Feeding 
by Valerie Fildes.
Edinburgh, 462 pp., £19.75, August 1986, 0 85224 462 2
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... These two books are important commentaries on the preoccupations of our own day. We all have expectations about the relationship between puritanism and sex, and therefore about what is likely to be found when the records of a Massachusetts county court in colonial times are searched for evidence on this matter. We are also aware that the first few days and months of life mould the personality ...
... By ‘family structure’ many things may be intended. I shall take it here in two senses. First, in the sense of composition of the co-resident domestic group, as the historical sociologists call it. This means the knot of persons who live together, man, wife and sometimes, but by no means always, their children, their relatives, if any, along with their servants, now excessively rare ...

Mothering

Peter Laslett, 6 August 1981

L’Amour en plus 
by Elisabeth Badinter.
Flammarion (Paris), 372 pp., £6.80, May 1980, 2 08 064279 0
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Mari et Femme dans la Société Paysanne 
by Martine Segalen.
Flammarion, 211 pp., £6.30, May 1980, 2 08 210957 7
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... Last year a book was published in Paris with the following sentences written on the back cover: Is motherly love an instinct which proceeds from ‘the feminine character.’ [une nature féminine]? Or is it rather for the most part a matter of social behaviour, varying from epoch to epoch as customs change? History shows us that the idea of motherly love is peculiarly subject to evolution ...

Super-Performers

Peter Laslett, 15 March 1984

Communiqué of the State Statistical Bureau of the People’s Republic of China on Major Figures in the 1982 Population Census 
Beijing, 6 pp., October 1982Show More
Patriarchy and Socialist Revolution in China 
by Judith Stacey.
California, 324 pp., £24.25, December 1983, 0 520 04825 3
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Long Lives: The Chinese Elderly and the Communist Revolution 
by Deborah Davis-Friedmann.
Harvard, 160 pp., £17, November 1983, 0 674 53860 9
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Beyond Sixty-Five: The Dilemma of Old Age in America’s Past 
by Carole Haber.
Cambridge, 181 pp., £17.50, May 1983, 9780521250962
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... China is a poor country. In 1978 the World Bank estimated that gross national product was no more than $290 per person. Yet everything which happens in China is inevitably important if only because the country is so very, very big. The Third Census of the People’s Republic, taken in July 1982, recorded 1,031,882, 511 Chinese, including, we may notice, the 18 million in ‘Taiwan Province’ and five and a half million in the ‘Hongkong and Macao Region ...

Marriage

Philippe Ariès, 16 October 1980

Bastardy and its Comparative History 
edited by Peter Laslett, Karla Oosterveen and Richard Smith.
Arnold, 431 pp., £24, May 1980, 0 7131 6229 5
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... is the case with this collective study of bastardy. The authors, together with their conductor. Peter Laslett, have shrunk from the simplification necessary to communication: their concern for absolute accuracy has paralysed them. This is not a new attitude: we had grown used to it from scholars of the past. It is intriguing, however, to discover ...

Rowlandsonian

John Brewer, 5 August 1982

English Society in the Eighteenth Century 
by Roy Porter.
Allen Lane/Pelican, 424 pp., £12.50, April 1982, 0 7139 1417 3
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... have come of age. The work of two generations of researchers, led by such avatars as Alan Everitt, Peter Laslett, J. H. Plumb, Lawrence Stone, Keith Thomas and E. P. Thompson, now constitutes a substantial body of knowledge that has transformed our conception both of British history and of what constitutes legitimate historical inquiry. The modish topics ...

Love, Loss and Family Advantage

Rosalind Mitchison, 1 September 1983

Family Forms in Historic Europe 
edited by Richard Wall.
Cambridge, 606 pp., £37.50, March 1983, 0 521 24547 8
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Servants in Husbandry in Early Modern England 
by Ann Kussmaul.
Cambridge, 245 pp., £22, December 1981, 0 521 23566 9
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The Subversive Family: An Alternative History of Love and Marriage 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Cape, 282 pp., £9.50, July 1982, 0 224 01999 6
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... this group of studies lies an important earlier collection, the work published in 1972, edited by Peter Laslett and Richard Wall, as Household and Family in Past Time. This book established the remarkable constancy of average household size in England since the 16th century, despite people’s mobility, with a norm of a little under five persons until ...

Out of it

Rosalind Mitchison, 5 April 1990

History of Old Age 
by Georges Minois, translated by Sarah Hanbury Tenison.
Polity, 343 pp., £29.50, September 1989, 0 7456 0549 4
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A Fresh Map of Life: The Emergence of the Third Age 
by Peter Laslett.
Weidenfeld, 213 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 297 79451 5
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... term ‘youth’ to cover from 20 to 50, a reminder of the economic importance of muscle power. Laslett’s approach is similarly related to function. He sees the first age as one of dependence and training, the second of economic activity, the fourth of physical deterioration and renewed dependence: but before that he claims that there is a new feature ...

Common Ground

Edmund Leach, 19 September 1985

A Social History of Western Europe 1450-1720: Tensions and Solidarities among Rural People 
by Sheldon Watts.
Hutchinson, 275 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 09 156081 0
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Kinship in the Past: An Anthropology of European Family Life 1500-1900 
by Andrejs Plakans.
Blackwell, 276 pp., £24.50, September 1984, 0 631 13066 7
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Interests and Emotion: Essays on the Study of Family and Kinship 
edited by Hans Medick and David Warren Sabean.
Cambridge, 417 pp., £35, June 1984, 0 521 24969 4
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... and Accusations’ included contributions concerning European history from Norman Cohn, Peter Brown, Keith Thomas and Alan Macfarlane, all professional historians. They were fully integrated with the contributions of the anthropologists. Since that date it has become increasingly common both in this country and elsewhere for historians and social ...

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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... and pre-industrial England, particularly with regard to family life and population levels. Laslett prefers to call the new approach it exemplifies ‘social structural history’, rather than sociology. He dismisses any exclusively economic interpretation as sterile, and believes that ‘certain features of Marxian historical sociology’ have been ...

East Hoathly makes a night of it

Marilyn Butler, 6 December 1984

The Diary of Thomas Turner 1754-1765 
edited by David Vaisey.
Oxford, 386 pp., £17.50, November 1984, 0 19 211782 3
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John Clare’s Autobiographical Writings 
edited by Eric Robinson.
Oxford, 185 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 19 211774 2
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John Clare: The Journals, Essays, and the Journey from Essex 
edited by Anne Tibble.
Carcanet, 139 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 85635 344 2
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The Natural History Prose Writings of John Clare 
edited by Margaret Grainger.
Oxford, 397 pp., £35, January 1984, 0 19 818517 0
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John Clare and the Folk Tradition 
by George Deacon.
Sinclair Browne, 397 pp., £15, February 1983, 0 86300 008 8
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... lives, talk and attitudes of the vast majority of the population in past times belong to what Peter Laslett calls, hauntingly, the world we have lost. The Diary of Thomas Turner claims notice as a sustained insider’s account of how ordinary people lived from day to day in a pre-industrial English village. On Thursday 27 December 1756 two of ...

Disorder

David Underdown, 4 May 1989

Village Revolts: Social Protest and Popular Disturbances in England 1509-1640 
by Roger Manning.
Oxford, 354 pp., £35, February 1988, 0 19 820116 8
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... by two years.) In places he unnecessarily diminishes his own subject, reflecting in the manner of Peter Laslett that every society contains a degree of conflict, and that occasional expressions of it are a matter of routine. Well, of course, it all depends on what we mean by politics. If, like Hobsbawm, we regard as political only actions which are ...

Casual Offenders

J.S. Morrill, 7 May 1981

The Justice and the Mare’s Ale 
by Alan Macfarlane.
Blackwell, 238 pp., £8.50, March 1981, 0 631 12681 3
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... by V.A. Gatrell, B. Lenman and G. Parker (Crime and the Law); to the implications of the work of Peter Laslett; and above all to the burgeoning number of studies of riot. Whether or not we subscribe to notions of the moral economy of rioters, one cannot but be struck by the self-discipline both of the rioters and of their victims. It would he hard to ...

Unreasoning Vigour

Stefan Collini: Ian Watt, 9 May 2019

Ian Watt: The Novel and the Wartime Critic 
by Marina MacKay.
Oxford, 228 pp., £25, November 2018, 978 0 19 882499 2
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... and more. In his preface he thanks Adorno, Henry Nash Smith, I.A. Richards, Talcott Parsons and Peter Laslett, among others. The standard caricature of the Cambridge-influenced criticism of the postwar years represents it as blunderingly empirical and cosily parochial: these stereotypes wilt and shrivel when confronted by Watt’s ambitious, analytical ...

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