Forthcoming from Pickering and Chatto in November 2011.
….and just out in paperback The Renaissance Conscience, eds. H. E. Braun and some guy called Vallance.
Happy New Year!
A reminder about the above Pickering and Chatto series. We would welcome proposals for new monographs. Details of where to send proposals and the form they should take can be found on the series homepage. Here you can also find details of current and forthcoming titles within the series.
There’s a short Yale interview on youtube with Prof. Steve Pincus discussing the Glorious Revolution.
Prof. Pincus’ new book on 1688 is out at the end of the month in the US and in October in the UK.
As per previous posts, I’ve just finished reading Malcolm Chase’s new history of Chartism. It’s a great piece of work, which achieves the difficult task of offering a clear narrative without sacrificing cogent analysis of the movement. The interspersing of Chartist biographies into the text helped to humanise a story, which, inevitably as a treatment of a mass political organisation might have become a bewildering blizzard of names. Chase also has a great eye for detail: the text is larded with evocative quotations and telling anecdotes, (this one in particular obviously grabbed my attention):
‘Reflecting on Oliver Cromwell and the parliamentarian cause, Hanson jolted awake. He rushed to find Elizabeth: ‘I say, lass, thah mun find me a white handkerchief for my neck ready for next Sunday; I am going to praech.’ To this she replied, ‘What ar’ta going to turn Methody na?’ ‘Noa,’ said Abram, ‘but I am going to praech for all that. I’ve just fun aght that t’Charter is to be gotten by praeching and praying.’ (p. 29)
BUT, Chase’s book doesn’t really have a conclusion, only a series of further biographies and a final ‘comment.’ And it’s not just Chase. I’ve been noticing that a large number of recent books that I have been reading are, well, inconclusive (see my review of Mike Braddick’s God’s Fury below.)
Of course, both Braddick and Chase make good cases for leaving their books open-ended. As Braddick suggests, aiming for over-arching conclusions about a period as historiographically contested as the 1640s is a somewhat fatuous task. Equally, as Chase points out, like many works on the success or failure of the English reformation, works on Chartism tend to offer either pessimistic or optimistic conclusions on the movement largely depending on where the authors draw the “finishing-line” chronologically. This makes such summaries inevitably rather artificial.
Reflecting on these historiographical uncertainties and/or issues of focus is valid and worthwhile. On the other hand, there a books like Diane Purkiss’s People’s History, which just, well, stops, with no thorough reflection on what the reader is supposed to have gained from the proceeding 570 pages. I’ve seen this trend in recent scholarly monographs too, so it appears to be a disease that doesn’t only afflict works written for a popular audience.
Where is all this inconclusiveness coming from?
is what I am currently reading. It is very good. Mile Taylor at THES agrees.
I particularly like the structuring of it, with a broad narrative interspersed with biographies of lesser-known Chartist figures.
Good that MUP have made an affordable paperback edition available too.