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My Father's Bookcase: A Version of the History of Ideas [Kindle Edition]

Lincoln Allison

Kindle Price: $4.50

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Book Description

My Father's Bookcase is a personal journey through modern writing from Sir Thomas More and Niccolo Machiavelli in the early sixteenth century to Kingsley Amis and C. L. R. James in the second half of the twentieth. It consists of fifty essays, retrospective reviews, of books which the author always wanted to read or re-read, but never had the time in normal adult life. The books are an eclectic collection which include works of fiction, philosophy and history as well as travel writing and collections of essays. It argues that there is enormous scope for the re-assessment of writing away from the orthodoxies of humanism and academic scholarship. There are some books not at the highest level of writing which nevertheless must be considered very important in the history of ideas: Ivanhoe, A Christmas Carol and Tom Brown's Schooldays all fall into this category. Conversely, there are first-rate novels, like Pride and Prejudice, which aren't very important. Wordsworth's Guide to the Lakes is probably more important in the history of ideas than any of his poetry. Bookcase argues that humour, generally unstudied in universities, contains important and different ideas: examples are W.S. Gilbert, Hilaire Belloc, Sellar and Yeatman and Richmal Crompton. The author's philosophical standpoint can be described as sceptical, liberal, conservative and utilitarian with a touch of anarchism. From this standpoint he admires the free spirits from Voltaire to Richmal Crompton and distrusts the perfecters and improvers of humanity, from Thomas More to Matthew Arnold. Above all, he regrets the specialisation of modern thought and the institutionalisation of literature which have the consequence that millions of people can consider themselves educated without having ever picked up David Hume's History of England or Samuel Smiles' Self-Help or Sir Ernest Gowers' Plain Words.


Lincoln Allison has combined an academic career in the study of politics with more general writing for newspapers and magazines. What he enjoyed about academic life was playing for the university staff cricket team and the company of clever young people. What he didn't like was the departmentalisation and bureaucratisation of knowledge and having to write for academic journals. He retired from full-time academic work in 2004 though remains Emeritus Reader in Politics at the University of Warwick and Visiting Professor in the politics of sport at the University of Brighton. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books on political philosophy, the politics of the environment, sport and travel. The best known are probably Amateurism in Sport and the edited book The Politics of Sport and its sequels. He lives in Leamington Spa with his wife Ann as do two of his three sons and both his granddaughters.

Product Details

  • File Size: 479 KB
  • Print Length: 325 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1904863566
  • Publisher: Social Affairs Unit (August 15, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005HFM7F4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,915,463 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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