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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Popular Recreations in English Society 1700-1850

BOOK REVIEW
Popular Recreations in English Society 1700-1850
by Robert Malcolmson
p. 1973
Cambridge University Press

       The way I see it, the recipe  for writing a book of non-fiction is to take a bunch of books normal people will never read and combine them in new and interesting ways.  This is very much one of those types of books- not particularly interesting as a stand alone book, but incredibly valuable if you are trying to assemble facts about popular culture in the 18th and 19th century.  If you stop and think about how important and fussed over popular culture is TODAY, the comparative lack of regard for it in the 18th and 19th century is somewhat puzzling.  Wouldn't someone writing about American Idol want to know about the cock throwing past time of rural England in the 18th century?  After all, the try out shows of American Idol SHARE ALOT of likeness to the "sport" of throwing rocks at a rooster that is tied to a stake in the ground. SPORTING.
     It's also interesting to read about the "running of the bulls."  This is something that exists only in Spain today, but was widespread in England in the 18th century.
    As for the take away, here's what I wrote, "As economic change accelerated, and as the market economy established a firm grip on social thinking and behavior, many customary practices came to be ignored and the recreations they supported were forced into disuse."

    I also thought this observation was interesting, "In the later seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries many men were still intensely suspicious of 'enthusiasm', of pleas for reform, of moral earnestness, and they reserved their favor for moderation, stability, and a cautious worldliness."

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