From The Pen Of The English Revolution Historian Professor Christopher Hill- A Short Note On “Liberty Against The Law”
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LIBERTY AGAINST THE LAW, CHRISTOPHER HILL, PENQUIN, NEW YORK, 1998
The late pre-eminent historian of the underclasses (and of their more well-known “organizations,” the quakers, sheathed and un-sheathed, shakers, fakers, rakers, and partakers) of the English Revolution, Professor Christopher Hill, has taken the myriad literary and cultural ideas, serious and zany, in some case very zany although not without some parallels today, or rather perhaps better said, the 1960s New Left times, that surfaced during the period between 1620-1720, the heart of the conversion of England from an agricultural to an embryonic capitalist economy. Professor Hill have given us his take on some previously understudied and misunderstood notions, many that have not made the conventional history books. I note that he used as his endpoint John Gay’s “Beggar’s Opera,” a work later adapted for the stage by Bertolt Brecht, and that I have reviewed elsewhere in this space (see September 2007 archives). One of the points discussed in that review is whether the figure of one MacHealth, the central figure of the work, former imperial soldier and leader of a profitable criminal gang is an incipient capitalist or the relic of an earlier age. Professor Hill’s book would seem to provide ammunition for the proposition that Mac Health, like the legendary Robin Hood, was a representative figure of the ‘freedom’ from the imperatives of capitalist contract, routine and law and harked back to the values of the old pastoral society. Read the book and see what you conclude.
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