In this collection of engaging and readable essays, Stefan Collini shows how much can be gained from bringing a rigorous historical perspective to some of the most contentious issues in contemporary culture. Whether he is asking what it means to inhabit and possess a 'national past', or reflecting on the role of the historian as social critic, whether he is scrutinizing the claims of Cultural Studies or challenging the assumptions about academic research whether he is pondering the future of literary biography or reassessing some of the leading minds in modern British culture, Collini writes with a rare blend of sympathy, sharpness, and wit. Explicitly addressed to the 'non-specialist', these essays attempt to make some of the fruits of detailed scholarly research in various fields available to a wider audience. The book will interest (and delight) readers interested in history, literature, and contemporary cultural debate.
`English pasts succeeds. Its form is improvisatory, its subjects are other people's books, but its thematic unity is the product of a creative and refined critical intelligence. There is a revealing sense of the ambiguities of the past and the complexities of historical values. Above all there is an ability to read other historians' work, and to perceive wider meanings whilst locating it within a grander intellectual vision' The Historical Journal, Vol.44 `Throughout there remains a freshness and richness of historical reference which delights and engages' The Historical Journal, Vol.44 `Collini is serious but never solemn ... Not that he settle for 'the robustly plain-man style' as an alternative to academic pompostity. His lightness of touch is like throwing open the windows after the fug of cultural theory since Raymond Williams.' David Gervais, The Cambridge Quarterly, Vol. 30 `Collini's public celebration of the under-appreciated scholarship of editors and annotators is a service to the humanities.' Canadian Journal of History `With English Pasts ... he has collected, combined, and expanded a number of reviews into sixteen essays which display the distinctive concerns, and exhuberant wit, he brings to the subjects of intellectual culture and of academic life.' Canadian Journal of History `Collini is a notably talented essayist and reviewer.' Canadian Journal of History `what he writes best about is intellectual imposture, which he skewers again and again in the pages of this coruscating collection ... If this is intellectual history as it should be written, let us have more of it.' Roy Foster, Financial Times `brilliant, subtle and erudite essays ... essays in the best sense.' The Economist An example of the merits of his own style: of a firm grasp on the way tone illustrates the mind at work behind it, and an understanding of the power and limits of intellectuality as against other imaginative demands. - Richard Hoggart
Number Of Pages: 368
Published: 1st March 1999
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 21.67 x 13.89 x 1.98
Weight (kg): 0.42