Collected Essays III
- Collected Essays III: People and Ideas in Seventeenth-Century England
Christopher Hill. xi + 340 pp. (Harvester Press, 1986)
The title of this third volume – People and Ideas in Seventeenth-Century England – is all-embracing and would have fitted the earlier volumes equally well. As ever with Christopher Hill the approach exhibits an insatiable curiosity and the writing is argumentative or combative in tone. There are tongue-in-cheek jibes here about J.H. Hexter's Marxist interpretation of Shakespeare's Richard II. Elton's stress on the primacy of political history is challenged. Though he applauds the boldness of the attempt, certain aspects of Lawrence Stone's treatment of The Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500-1800 are called into question. Conversely the welcome Hill accords to a rather lightweight publication on Homosexuality in Renaissance England might seem excessively enthusiastic. It is Peter Laslett, however, who comes in for a relentless attack on what are held to be his false assumptions about the nature of seventeenth-century society, the validity of his evidence, and for his brash, ill-founded claims. The World we have Lost is clearly not one of Hill's favourite books.
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