Information and Material Progress in Seventeenth-Century England
Author: Paul Slack
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Improvement was a new concept in seventeenth-century England; only then did it become usual for people to think that the most effective way to change things for the better was not a revolution or a return to the past, but the persistent application of human ingenuity to the challenge of increasing the country's wealth and general wellbeing. Improvements in agriculture and industry, commerce and social welfare, would bring infinite prosperity and happiness. The word improvement was itself a recent coinage. It was useful as a slogan summarising all these goals, and since it had no equivalent in other languages, it gave the English a distinctive culture of improvement that they took with them to Ireland and Scotland, and to their possessions overseas. It made them different from everyone else. The Invention of Improvement explains how this culture of improvement came about. Paul Slack explores the political and economic circumstances which allowed notions of improvement to take root, and the changes in habits of mind which improvement accelerated. It encouraged innovation, industriousness, and the acquisition of consumer goods which delivered comfort and pleasure. There was a new appreciation of material progress as a process that could be measured, and its impact was publicised by the circulation of information about it. It had made the country richer and many of its citizens more prosperous, if not always happier. Drawing on a rich variety of contemporary literature, The Invention of Improvement situates improvement at the centre of momentous changes in how people thought and behaved, how they conceived of their environment and their collective prospects, and how they cooperated in order to change them.
'Fine cultural history.' -David McAllister, Times Literary Supplement'Roger Luckhurst's The Invention of Telepathy comes at the disturbing story of modern psychic experiments through rich, overlapping layers of social and intellectual history and makes comprehensible what otherwise seem eccentricities and even folly on the part of scientists and thinkers.' -Marina Warner, 'Books of the Year', Times Literary Supplement'Luckhurst's densely worked argument picks up and knots the trailing threads in a carpet where figures of imperialist fantasy, technological terror and scientific speculation can be glimpsed side by side... lucid and richly layered study.' -Marina Warner, London Review of BooksThe belief in telepathy is still widely held and yet it remains much disputed by scientists. Roger Luckhurst explores the origins of the term in the late nineteenth century. Telepathy mixed physical and mental sciences, new technologies and old superstitions, and it fascinated many famous people in the late Victorian era: Sigmund Freud, Thomas Huxley, Henry James, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Oscar Wilde. This is an exciting and accessible study, written for general readers as much as scholars and students.
ORPHAN, CLOCK KEEPER, AND THIEF, twelve-year-old Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric girl and her grandfather, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.
Bridgeport, Connecticut: 1913. Austin Voronkov is a Russian immigrant working in a factory. When he falls in love with Julia – the daughter of his landlady – the American Dream feels within reach. But after he is wrongly accused of attending an anarchist gathering and is deported, that dream becomes a nightmare. Spanning four decades and three continents, The Invention of Exile is the story of an epic love that is tested over and over again,but never broken. Stuck in a strange land, separated fromhis family and unable to see his children grow up, Austin becomesa pawn in the cat-and-mouse game of political antagonism betweenthe United States and the new Soviet Union. But with steadfastcourage and unwavering devotion, Julia finds a way to keeptheir love alive.
How did the value of freedom become so closely associated with the institution of the market? Why did the idea of market freedom hold so little appeal before the modern period and how can we explain its rise to dominance? In The Invention of Market Freedom, Eric MacGilvray addresses these questions by contrasting the market conception of freedom with the republican view that it displaced. After analyzing the ethical core and exploring the conceptual complexity of republican freedom, MacGilvray shows how this way of thinking was confronted with, altered in response to, and finally overcome by the rise of modern market societies. By learning to see market freedom as something that was invented, we can become more alert to the ways in which the appeal to freedom shapes and distorts our thinking about politics.
It is 1936 and A. E. Housman is being ferried across the river Styx, glad to be dead at last. His memories are dramatically alive. The river that flows through Tom Stoppard's The Invention of Love connects Hades with the Oxford of Housman's youth: High Victorian morality is under siege from the Aesthetic movement, and an Irish student called Wilde is preparing to burst onto the London scene. On his journey the scholar and poet who is now the elder Housman confronts his younger self, and the memories of the man he loved his entire life, Moses Jackson—the handsome athlete who could not return his feelings. As if a dream, The Invention of Love inhabits Housman's imagination, illuminating both the pain of hopeless love and passion displaced into poetry and the study of classical texts. The author of A Shropshire Lad lived almost invisibly in the shadow of the flamboyant Oscar Wilde, and died old and venerated—but whose passion was truly the fatal one?
Many of the traditions which we think of as very ancient in their origins were not in fact sanctioned by long usage over the centuries, but were invented comparatively recently. This book explores examples of this process of invention – the creation of Welsh and Scottish 'national culture'; the elaboration of British royal rituals in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; the origins of imperial rituals in British India and Africa; and the attempts by radical movements to develop counter-traditions of their own. It addresses the complex interaction of past and present, bringing together historians and anthropologists in a fascinating study of ritual and symbolism which poses new questions for the understanding of our history.
“[A] wide-ranging and nuanced group portrait of the Founding Fathers” by a Pulitzer Prize winner (The New Yorker). In the early 1770s, the men who invented America were living quiet, provincial lives in the rustic backwaters of the New World, devoted to family and the private pursuit of wealth and happiness. None set out to become “revolutionary.” But when events in Boston escalated, they found themselves thrust into a crisis that moved quickly from protest to war. In Revolutionaries, a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian shows how the private lives of these men were suddenly transformed into public careers—how Washington became a strategist, Franklin a pioneering cultural diplomat, Madison a sophisticated constitutional thinker, and Hamilton a brilliant policymaker. From the Boston Tea Party to the First Continental Congress, from Trenton to Valley Forge, from the ratification of the Constitution to the disputes that led to our two-party system, Rakove explores the competing views of politics, war, diplomacy, and society that shaped our nation. We see the founders before they were fully formed leaders, as ordinary men who became extraordinary, altered by history. “[An] eminently readable account of the men who led the Revolution, wrote the Constitution and persuaded the citizens of the thirteen original states to adopt it.” —San Francisco Chronicle “Superb . . . a distinctive, fresh retelling of this epochal tale . . . Men like John Dickinson, George Mason, and Henry and John Laurens, rarely leading characters in similar works, put in strong appearances here. But the focus is on the big five: Washington, Franklin, John Adams, Jefferson, and Hamilton. Everyone interested in the founding of the U.S. will want to read this book.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
If C/conservatism can be said to be one of the most well-known and influential bodies of political thought, it is 'Burkean conservatism' that is seen to provide its core. But Edmund Burke himself, an eighteenth-century Irishman and politician, had been no 'C/conservative': this was a body of thought and a political party established after his death. For the first time, this volume tells the story of how Burke's legacy was transformed in Britain over the course ofthe nineteenth century and how, in the process, one of our most significant theories of modern politics and thought was created and circulated.
Paul Slack's incisive analysis shows how the English came to believe between 1500 and 1740 that piecemeal improvement was more likely to be achieved than total social reformation. He examines social policy and institutions such as workhouses and hospitals in order to illustrate how contemporaries tried to shape their social and moral environment, and how they defined the notion of `welfare'.