THE MAKING OF THE ENGLISH WORKING CLASS by E.P. Thompson

THE MAKING OF THE ENGLISH WORKING CLASS

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The title suggests a Fabian and the bulk makes one wary that it's arxian sociology all over again. As one reads, however, all thoughts of sectarian vanish. True Professor Thompson makes a to-do about class-consciousness nourishing the Tree of Liberty, but that's understandable in light of the subject, and besides for him class-consciousness is not a determinist dogma, but the way in which "experiences are handled in cultural terms". Thus while he uses his considerable scholarship and unperplexed and persuasive style to explore the foreshadowings and the effects of the Industrial Revolution from the late 18th century to the early 19th, it is done from the vantage point of the total-life expression of the working-class, i.e. all the religious, social, political, economic and psychological aspects involved are rigorously pursued and rounded off. In addition, he manages to connect number of modern issues, for instance, giving the lie to the modish liberal-realism of Snow saying the poor "walked off the lands into the factories as fast as the factories could take them". The poor did no such thing, they knew better, living in a frightful time with God and Mammon in each other's pockets: pressures towards regimentation extended from the factory, on the one hand, and the Sunday school, the other. "The praise of Jehovah", said Blake, "is chanted from lips of hunger and thirst"; "Laws grind the poor", said Goldsmith, "and rich men rule the law". The passages on these and other poets, incidentally, are another indication of the Look's breadth. They illuminate the many-sided nature of a rebellious, tempest-tossed era as much as do the complementary considerations of Paine, Pitt, Cobbett and Owens, of Jacobinism, Chartists, Radicals and the Luddite march on the power. Really a thumpingly fine performance.
ISBN: 0140136037
Page count: 1937pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1964




MORE BY E.P. THOMPSON

AdultCOLLECTED POEMS by E.P. Thompson
by E.P. Thompson
NonfictionTHE ROMANTICS by E.P. Thompson
by E.P. Thompson
NonfictionMAKING HISTORY by E.P. Thompson
by E.P. Thompson