With edits by the editors Chris Cotton, Peter White and Stephen Brooks.
On Sunday 1 or Sunday 8 April 1649 – it is difficult, as the editors note, to establish the date with certainty (vol. 1, p. 28) – five people went to St. George’s Hill in the parish of Walton-on-Thames, Surrey and began digging the earth. They sowed the unfertile ground with parsnips, carrots and beans, returning the next day in increased numbers.
This collection has its origins in a conference on ‘The Consumption of Books During the Tudor Era: Printers, Publishers and Readers’, held at the Huntington Library in 2006. Its contents, however, only partially reflect that event, since a significant proportion of the essays (four out of the ten) have been written or co-written by scholars who did not attend the conference.
This is a short book on a big topic. It seeks to challenge the standard narrative of European political thought, by offering a sharply revisionist account of its foundations.
Many years ago this reviewer attended a meeting of the Cambridge interdisciplinary medievalists’ group at which Terry Jones, who had recently published his debunking book on Chaucer’s knight, bravely crossed swords with Derek Brewer, then the foremost Chaucerian scholar, in front of an audience which included numbers of the university’s teachers of medieval English literature.
In her most recent publication, Felicity Nussbaum masterfully explores the relationship between the celebrated actresses of the 18th-century English stage and the changing economic and social mores of the period.
The late Middle Ages are a challenging period to survey and synthesise. Any attempt to summarise their complexity, chaos, and dynamism within a restricted publisher’s word limit and at the same time provide an effective textbook for undergraduates is fraught with issues of coverage, comprehensiveness, and accessibility.
Hamilton’s book is an important contribution to our understanding of church reform in the 11th century.
Wasteland with Words is a very welcome addition to the small number of academic books about Iceland’s modern history available in English. The few other works on modern Icelandic history are largely written in Icelandic for local consumption.