Fire and Circuses

Although I do not want to spend all my time looking backwards and I have already offered some thoughts on the past 18 months, I must not overlook some of the best things I have read on the net. It is, after all, from the net, in the form of email, blogs and links to articles, that I both acquire the majority of my information about what is going on in the world, and even more that I read the best of the analysis which inspires and intrigues me. Continue Reading »


As we shall see, there is a sense in which this Tale follows on directly from Tale 14 – it too has as a central concern the effects upon a young man of having his conscience awakened. This raises again the question of the way in which certain Tales are grouped and the order in which they are presented; I would certainly suggest that Tales 14 and 15 do need to be considered as, to some degree, complementary. Having said this the milieu and characters, not to mention the outcome, of this story are very different to those of The Struggles of Conscience, and centre on a relationship of which Crabbe must have had considerable personal knowledge. Continue Reading »

Long-term readers will know that I am fan of TV talent shows, especially those for singers, as reinvented by Messrs Cowell and Fuller some time ago. However of recent years I had become disenchanted, most especially by American Idol which has always been the benchmark, and has produced by much the highest quality of contestant and winner. Continue Reading »

The Struggles of Conscience forms one of that subset of The Tales concerned with the rise and fall of young men (other prominent examples include Tale 5, The Patron, Tale 11, Edward Shore and Tale 21, The Learned Boy). Although these tales are very different in their particular protagonists and their central issues, it is worth forming the connection, both because it raises questions around the autobiographical elements which may have worked their way, consciously or unconsciously, into such stories, but also because it is interesting to observe how Crabbe uses this particular narrative format to examine some of his major ideological, political and moral concerns. Continue Reading »

I wrote of  Tale 12 – Squire Thomas  – on September 28th 2010, so my project of providing a commentary on Crabbe’s Tales is proving a protracted one, as I suspected it would! However in the 21 months since then, I have not just read the next Tale – I have read all the early (18thC) poems, The Parish-Register, The Borough, the rest of the Tales and am embarked on Tales of The Hall. I have also read some books of criticism/biography. This effort has now intensified in preparation for a one-day Conference on Crabbe in July. My knowledge has therefore increased substantially, and I feel that I begin to have a better grasp of the poet – or, more accurately, I have a better feeling for the many problems, ambiguities and issues which a more in-depth study of any figure of interest inevitably entails. Continue Reading »

Anarchism in Short

This is a piece which I was in the middle of writing in October 2010 when illness intervened; it is therefore unfinished. But I didn’t want to let the part I had written go to waste!

A Very Short Introduction to Anarchism by Colin Ward differs from other books in the series in that the author is an Anarchist himself and the book is unashamedly partisan. This is not to say that writers of other books in the series do not care, or are not passionate about, their subjects but that is somewhat different from advocating a particular political position. Continue Reading »

Whilst I have read, or reread, many ‘real’ books in the past 20 months, the most significant development in my reading habits has been the acquisition of a Kindle. I do not intend in future to bother specifying in which format I am reading any particular book I discuss, but did want to spend some time giving a general oversight of what I perceive as the strengths and weaknesses of Kindle, an account of the mistakes I made, and how acquiring a Kindle has affected my reading practice. Continue Reading »