Monday, May 23, 2011

Straight outta Manchester

An amiable courier agent just knocked on my door and handed me six copies of The Crisis of Theory: EP Thompson, the New Left, and Postwar British Politics, the hardcover volume published recently by Manchester University Press. Looking down the cover of one of the strange tomes, I noticed that the author had the same name as me.

The arrival of this, my third book, brings to a close an inglorious era which began all the way back in the middle of 2002, when I began to pursue some ill-focused research into the British historian, politician, indifferent poet, and cricketer EP Thompson, with the intention of one day writing a PhD thesis. The thesis was taken off my hands in April 2008, and I was eventually encouraged to turn it into a book.

The hardest part of the whole process seems, in retrospect, to have been the compiling of an index. The task brought back memories of a rainy childhood afternoon spent weeping in frustration over a jigsaw puzzle. I didn't get an index off to Manchester until around about last Christmas, which is why the release date for the book was knocked back a bit.

The saddest part of the process came last February, when EP's widow Dorothy died at the age of eighty-seven. As I explained at the time, Dorothy and I had exchanged scores of e mails about the book, and had perhaps almost come to think of ourselves as co-authors.

Now that The Crisis of Theory has arrived, I face a problem. When I was in the my early twenties, I had only two real ambitions: I wanted to publish a book of poetry which was favourably reviewed in Landfall, New Zealand's venerable literary journal, and I wanted to publish a scholarly book with a prestigious academic press (I never really wanted to become an academic: the notion of giving the same stage one lecture for thirty or forty years and regularly marking hundreds of essays on topics like 'Symbolism in the Lord of Flies' or 'Is Structure or Agency More Important in Driving Social Change?' seemed far too redolent of that rainy jigsaw puzzle afternoon...)

I never seriously expected to achieve either of my goals - at the time I conceived them, I was about halfway through an epic five year Bachelor of Arts degree, and my poems were being returned, sometimes without comment, from a variety of magazines - but I got the Landfall review back in 2007, and now I have the scholarly book. What else is there, now, to do in life? How can I fill in those empty endless hours? Will I have to get a hobby, like bowls or pig hunting, or start watching TV, or - horror of horrors! - get a proper job? All of a sudden I'm wondering whether I should have dragged that index-compiling out just a little bit longer...

Many of the chapters of the new book appeared in draft form on this blog: the drafts can be found via this page. You can read the curious story of the making of the cover of The Crisis of Theory here.

Some of you will find yourselves, perhaps to your alarm, on my acknowledgments page (click to read it):


Anonymous Ruth Wagstaff said...

Congratulations! What a great achievement!

4:14 pm  
Blogger Skyler said...

So proud of you!! What a great book and the wonderful product of so much worthwhile research and writing.

4:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you prove that this book has been published?

4:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ept drinks waikato?

6:32 pm  
Anonymous Nate said...

Good job!
Enjoy TV - people tell me MasterChef is really cool

7:29 pm  
Anonymous Vivienne Kent said...

Huge congratulations, Scott! Must meet you and Cerian for a drink soon! Vivx

11:04 pm  
Anonymous Intis said...

This blog is very self-centred. So many posts are just announcing/showing off about new publications. What about burning political events in obscure corners of the world?

I personally think we learn from life and PRAXIS not books.

The STRUGGLE is the best teacher.

I learned what I know on the streets of the struggle.

12:07 am  
Anonymous Intis said...

Sounds a bit bourgeois?

From wikipedia:

Manchester University Press is the university press of the University of Manchester, England and a publisher of academic books and journals. Manchester University Press has developed into an international publisher. It maintains its links with the University and is the third largest university press in the United Kingdom after Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press.

Manchester University Press publishes textbooks for academic teaching in higher education. It produces around 140 new books and sells around 150,000 books annually. It also publishes 11 journals: about half the output is exported.

The historical legacy is still apparent: around one third of the books published today are on History. Other areas of expertise are Politics and International Law, Literature and Theatre Studies, and Visual Culture.

In the United States of America MUP books are marketed and distributed by Palgrave, in Canada by the University of British Columbia Press, and in Australia by Footprint Books: all other global territories are covered from Manchester itself.

In 2007 the largest throughput of new publishing in the history of the Press was achieved with well over 150 new titles published, thanks in part to the Research Assessment Exercise, as well as the increased flexibility of the new distribution arrangementThe Press was founded by Professor of History at Manchester University James Tait. His successor Thomas Tout was also from the University's History department, and between them they were in charge for the first 20 years of the Press's existence. H. M. McKechnie was secretary to the press from 1912 to 1949.

The offices of the Press moved several times to make way for other developments within the University. Since 1951 these have been Grove House, Oxford Road,[1] then the former Dental Hospital and thirdly the Old Medical School (pictured above).

12:29 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Scott - this is huge!!

Don't worry about jig saw puzzles! You have poetry books more such politico-socio books and much more to do. You have your own books and a book about Smithy.

Get into those projects. Make a list!

But relax for now...

Are you having a "launch" here? I suppose the books will be for sale at Borders or Unity etc Where can I buy a copy? Online?

Congratulations again!!

12:31 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Intis sounds bitter - typical mad socialist of the old kind they cant enjoy life, and never find anyone who is good - like poor old Geoffrey Hill - he is tormented albeit a genius - you don't have to be like one of those joyless wounded bear socialists or modern old Testamental Prophets such as Geoffrey Hill etc

A lot of those so-called socialists are just jealous of other people's drive and initiative and creativity.

Often they hate more than they love so they would never be able to make any kind of egalitarian enterprise work well...

Don't worry about losers like them, go for it Maps!

12:39 am  
Anonymous ex-Brit said...

Talking about digging up documents from the past, get a load of this:

Holocaust denial by the British government? Something slose anyway?

The British - not EP Thompson but the British in general - are so smug about their past, but what they did in places like Kenya was fascist. Theirs was an evil empire, not so different at times from the empire Hitler made in Europe.

And yet we're all supposed to revere Queen and country and British tradition.

Screw that.

The Union Jack: a symbol of genocide.

1:17 am  
Anonymous Edward said...

Congrats Scott!

8:22 am  
Blogger Dr Jack Ross said...

Great stuff, Scott!

Thanks again for your crazed lecture / powerpoint extravaganza at Massey last week - they didn't know what had hit them ...

Thanks too to Skyler for her technical wizardry and statespersonlike calm in the midst of chaos.

8:37 am  
Blogger Skyler said...

Hi Richard, the cheapest place to buy the book online (and includes free delivery) is:

You can buy it in all the usual online places too like Amazon.

10:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

intis: a tragic dick

4:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS Has this every been done before...PhD thesis by NZ sociology/social sci kid turned into book for top UK academic publisher?

MUP is no.1 in the UK at the mo isn't it, in prestige?

4:52 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Skyler - thanks for the link but it is way out of my budget - but I understand that such new books are indeed very expensive.

It looks very impressive.

6:13 pm  
Anonymous Clive Fulnelni said...

The democratic institution of the library (including in New Zealand the university library, which can be accessed by the public) was invented partly for the purpose of allowing access to expensive books like this one.

6:37 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats Scott! And thanks for the thanks. I'll make sure this uni library orders it immediately...


6:53 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

I had thought of that brilliant resource.

I would love to own one. Scott has given me so many books over the years
so I would prefer to buy one to support Scott. I will get one via the library and pay one off maybe at Borders or wherever.

Mighty Ape have books.
Anyway I would like to see Maps making money by his writings and his poetry as he doesn't fancy lecturing.

There is nothing wrong with making good money.

I have run a few small business in my time. It is almost erotic the feel of cash in one's hand earnt by one's own independent endeavours.

9:33 pm  
Blogger Sandra said...

Congratulations! Truly an impressive achievement. I love it that you enjoy blogging and so I can enjoy reading your thoughts despite no longer having access to a university library.

Will you find a way of celebrating your achievement in Huntly? Surely better than the Albany Mega Centre. I almost believed in divine retribution of huge scale ugliness (of form and function) for a moment when news came through of the mini tornado recently.

But back to the book. I'm wondering if I can get the Greymouth District Library to buy it. Last time they refused my request was because the book was spiral bound, and your lovely tome doesn't appear to suffer that weakness. I shall think of you and E P Thompson tomorrow at the meeting of Te Mahi Tipuna: the Blackball museum of working class history trust. I imagine you'd both approve.

9:53 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Thanks very much for the positive comments everyone. I just wish that the bloody thing wasn't so expensive, and thus aimed, mainly, at academic libraries. Hopefully there'll be a paperback edition at a more affordable price.

I've also violated the three golden rules which everyone publishing a book should follow

1. Don't open your own book
2. Don't open your own book
3. Don't open your own book

and have thus become preoccupied with the sort of typos and printing errors which are almost inevitable in a book of this size. Never mind!

9:17 am  
Anonymous Evan said...

Congratulations on the book.

Long-time reader, first-time commentor. I actually sent you an email last week about a project on the British left. Although I'm not sure whether I had the right email address.

My ambiguous message via this blog is: check your email...

1:35 pm  
Blogger Snowball said...

Congratulations - have skim-read the whole thing this weekend and your work is most impressive...

7:38 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations Scott! Looking forward to reading this. Also, our mutual friend, Michael Steven, found a copy of Thompson's sci-fi book in the book shop he worked in down here in Dunedin. Have you written anything about it?




I'm always amazed by the number of crazies your blog attracts!

1:52 pm  

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