For those historians who have studied the English Reformation or the writing of polemics, histories and plays in the 16th century the name John Bale (1495–1563) appears high on the list of English scholars supporting a reformist agenda. Bale popularised the genre of martyrology for an English audience, later taken to its logical conclusion in John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.
Timothy Larsen’s purpose in writing A People of One Book is to demonstrate the extent to which the Bible dominated Victorian thought and culture. He claims that this has yet to be fully grasped, and endeavours to prove his thesis by offering a detailed examination of how Scripture was central to the experience of divergent groupings in Victorian England.
This volume collects and revises a series of articles by Patrick Collinson, which were first published between 1994 and 2009. It therefore systematically assembles a number of previously independent arguments, in order to provide a coherent vision of the way 16th-century Englishmen – and most of Collinson’s subjects are men – imagined their nation.
Histories of British socialism are nothing new, with classic studies in the field going back to G. D. H. Cole.(1) Mark Bevir’s new book, however, comes from a slightly different perspective, in that it focuses on the ‘making’ of British socialism in, broadly, the final quarter of the 19th century.
Medieval people traced the multiplicity of languages back to the story in Genesis of the tower of Babel, built by humans. God punished their arrogance by scattering them to the four winds so that each could not understand the language of his neighbour. From the sons of Noah were descended 72 peoples with 72 languages.
In the wake of the 1909 centenary celebrations of his birth the New York Times detected a changing mood that made it ‘probable’ that Charles Darwin’s ‘fame’ had ‘reached its acme’. Three years after his bicentennial – ‘history’s biggest birthday party’ as Steven Shapin described it – no one is making similar predictions of an imminent decline of interest in Darwin.
Thomas Jefferson was a man who reflected Enlightenment attitudes. This simple statement has formed the premise of much Jefferson scholarship in recent decades, and in particular historians have made an effort to connect Jefferson with the Enlightenment in Britain, especially in its Scottish manifestation.
The liberal enlightenment idea of progress has promised many benefits over the past 300 years. Liberal progress, we have been told, would provide cures for diseases, remedies for ignorance, alternatives to superstition, and antidotes to poverty. Nothing however has raised higher expectations than liberalism’s claim that it could put an end to war.
Over the last twenty years Richard Bentley’s star has, if not exactly risen, then at least been mapped.
Simon Goldhill throws down the gauntlet to the entire field of classical reception studies in his new book Victorian Culture and Classical Antiquity. This flourishing sub-discipline of Classics has, in the last two decades in particular, explored a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches.