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Making a Mouth in a Contemptuous Manner

John Gallagher: Civility Held Sway, 4 July 2019

In Pursuit of Civility: Manners and Civilisation in Early Modern England 
by Keith Thomas.
Yale, 457 pp., £25, June 2018, 978 0 300 23577 7
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... language were ruder and less polished than those of their Continental counterparts. The translator Thomas Hoby called for writers to translate important works in order to enrich their own language, so that ‘we alone of the worlde maye not bee styll counted barbarous in our tunge, as in time out of minde we have bene in our maners’. For Hoby and his ...

Common Thoughts

Eamon Duffy: Early Modern Ambition, 23 July 2009

The Ends of Life: Roads to Fulfilment in Early Modern England 
by Keith Thomas.
Oxford, 393 pp., £20, February 2009, 978 0 19 924723 3
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... Keith Thomas prefaces this book with a quotation from the greatest of English medievalists, F.W. Maitland: ‘A century hence . . . by slow degrees the thoughts of our forefathers, their common thoughts about common things, will become thinkable once more.’ That aspiration, to recover ‘common thoughts about common things’, was a novelty in Victorian historiography ...

At the British Museum

Peter Campbell: Living, Dying and Enlightenment, 22 January 2004

... physical context is the fittings (bookshelves and display cases) of an early 19th-century library. Keith Thomas, in an afterword to Enlightening the British, talks about the way the assumptions that underwrote the foundation of the British Museum have changed. One purpose – ‘advancement and improvement’ – has given way to ...

Staunch with Sugar

Malcolm Gaskill: Early Modern Mishaps, 7 September 2017

Accidents and Violent Death in Early Modern London, 1650-1750 
by Craig Spence.
Boydell, 273 pp., £65, November 2016, 978 1 78327 135 1
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... properties, while they waited for help to arrive. A surgeon patched Wood up, and sent him to St Thomas’s Hospital where to everyone’s surprise he made a full recovery within two months. This minor miracle – doctors were baffled by the lack of arterial bleeding – was celebrated in an engraving in which a lank-haired, classically draped Wood stares ...

Must we pay for Sanskrit?

Michael Wood, 15 December 2011

... won’t have to pay for them. But their children will, and so will ours – and not with money. Keith Thomas and Michael Wood spoke at ‘Universities under Attack’, a conference sponsored by the ‘London Review’, the ‘New York Review’ and Fritt Ord held on 26 November at King’s College ...

On Saving the Warburg

Charles Hope, 4 December 2014

... the benefit of the institute. The Warburg Institute’s advisory council, through its chairman, Keith Thomas, took a view similar to mine. Our protests did not have much effect, because it wasn’t until late in 2004 that the university even asked to see a copy of the deed, not being able to locate its own. By then the vice-chancellor, Graeme ...

Stratagems of Ignorance

Theodore Zeldin, 5 January 1989

The Superstitious Mind 
by Judith Devlin.
Yale, 316 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 300 03710 4
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... things are less clear. In his excellent book on the decline of magic in 17th-century England, Keith Thomas stated the problem. Having shown how belief in the supernatural was dethroned on the one hand by the spread of scientific attitudes and on the other by a new Protestant ethic of self-help and stoicism in the face of suffering, he concluded, with ...

Common Ground

Edmund Leach, 19 September 1985

A Social History of Western Europe 1450-1720: Tensions and Solidarities among Rural People 
by Sheldon Watts.
Hutchinson, 275 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 09 156081 0
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Kinship in the Past: An Anthropology of European Family Life 1500-1900 
by Andrejs Plakans.
Blackwell, 276 pp., £24.50, September 1984, 0 631 13066 7
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Interests and Emotion: Essays on the Study of Family and Kinship 
edited by Hans Medick and David Warren Sabean.
Cambridge, 417 pp., £35, June 1984, 0 521 24969 4
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... Accusations’ included contributions concerning European history from Norman Cohn, Peter Brown, Keith Thomas and Alan Macfarlane, all professional historians. They were fully integrated with the contributions of the anthropologists. Since that date it has become increasingly common both in this country and elsewhere for historians and social ...

Homage to the Old Religion

Susan Brigden, 27 May 1993

The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, c.1400-c.1580 
by Eamon Duffy.
Yale, 704 pp., £29.95, November 1992, 0 300 05342 8
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... the Devil were characteristic of late medieval religion. In Religion and the Decline of Magic Keith Thomas asserted that the medieval Church had done a great deal to weaken the fundamental distinction between a prayer and a charm, and to encourage the belief that there was a virtue in the mere incantation of holy words. Duffy seems to provide vivid ...

Gesture as Language

David Trotter, 30 January 1992

A Cultural History of Gestures: From Antiquity to the Present 
edited by Jan Bremmer and Herman Roodenburg.
Polity, 220 pp., £35, December 1991, 0 7456 0786 1
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The New Oxford Book of 17th-Century Verse 
by Alastair Fowler.
Oxford, 830 pp., £25, November 1991, 0 19 214164 3
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... on manners; in paintings and novels. In his introductory essay to the first of these books, Keith Thomas proposes that the cultural historian should reconstruct from such evidence the ‘grammar of gesture’, as part of a larger attempt to define ‘all the codes and conventions which create the context for meaningful behaviour in the society ...

Leave it to the teachers

Conrad Russell, 20 March 1997

... rates at the beginning of the century. Partly, this may be explained in the words once written by Keith Thomas: ‘if magic is to be defined as the employment of ineffective techniques to allay anxiety when effective ones are not available, then we must recognise that no society will ever be free from it.’ Democratic politicians have eyes bigger than ...

Take old urine and slag iron

Simon Goldhill: Magic in the ancient world, 3 September 1998

Magic in the Ancient World 
by Fritz Graf.
Harvard, 318 pp., £23.50, February 1998, 0 674 54151 0
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... from smaller ponds’. This battle has been played out repeatedly on different fields: as Keith Thomas showed in his magisterial Religion and the Decline of Magic, there is a long history of engagement between magic and religion as definitional categories. In exemplary fashion, the classical scholar and Catholic priest, AndréJean ...

Brutish Babies

David Wootton: Witchcraft, 11 November 1999

Shaman of Oberstdorf: Chonrad Stoeckhlin and the Phantoms of the Night 
by Wolfgang Behringer, translated by H.C.Erik Midelfort.
Virginia, 203 pp., £14.50, September 1998, 0 8139 1853 7
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Thinking with Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe 
by Stuart Clark.
Oxford, 845 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 19 820001 3
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Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England 
by Alan Macfarlane.
Routledge, 368 pp., £55, April 1999, 0 415 19611 6
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The Bewitching of Anne Gunter: A Horrible and True Story of Football, Witchcraft, Murder and the King of England 
by James Sharpe.
Profile, 256 pp., £16.99, November 1999, 9781861970480
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... with a series of books published nearly thirty years ago by Hugh Trevor-Roper, Alan Macfarlane, Keith Thomas and Erik Midelfort. Until very recently, however, it was the history of trials on the Continent alone that seemed a lively subject, and in 1996 Diane Purkiss could still properly complain of ‘the torpor of English witchcraft studies’. It was ...

The Crowe is White

Hilary Mantel: Bloody Mary, 24 September 2009

Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor 
by Eamon Duffy.
Yale, 249 pp., £19.99, June 2009, 978 0 300 15216 6
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... at him: ‘It is a merye worlde when such as thou arte shall teache us what is the truth.’ Thomas Tomkins, a weaver, was burned after Edmund Bonner, bishop of London, had forcibly shaved off his long evangelist’s beard ‘so he wold loke like a catholike’ even if he wasn’t one, and had held his hand in a candle flame to give him a foretaste of ...

Lamb’s Tails

Christopher Driver, 19 June 1986

All Manners of Food: Eating and Taste in England and France from the Middle Ages to the Present 
by Stephen Mennell.
Blackwell, 380 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 631 13244 9
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Curye on Inglysch: English Culinary Manuscripts of the 14th Century including ‘The Forme of Cury’ 
edited by Constance Hieatt and Sharon Butler.
Oxford, for the Early English Text Society, 224 pp., £6.50, April 1985, 0 19 722409 1
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The English Cookbook 
by Victor Gordon.
Cape, 304 pp., £12.50, November 1985, 0 224 02300 4
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... at interrogation centred upon food rather than sex. English diarists – Evelyn as well as Pepys, Thomas Turner as well as Parson Woodforde – confide their meals to paper as readily as their other concerns. One reason why Keats makes better reading than Shelley is that he had a superior gust for eating and drinking, and found a language for it in verse and ...

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