Monday, January 18, 2010

Peter Linebaugh, The London Hanged: Crime and Civil Society in the Eighteenth Century

For the past month or so, I've been working through a few different sources that will enhance my upcoming Dickens seminar in Barnaby Rudge and Martin Chuzzlewit, and this is one of the books I found especially helpful.

Linebaugh's The London Hanged is an excellent examination of capital punishment in 18th Century England and how it related to an emerging awareness of personal property. The author draws from a wide variety of source material and spins a good yarn as chapter after chapter takes the reader through criminals and their crimes, class warfare, the slave trade, social uprisings -- all motivated by (and influencing) Britain's changing perceptions of socio-economic status within the 18th century. My primary focus while reading this book: the Gordon Riots of 1780, one of the worst social uprisings in English history and the subject of Dickens's Barnaby Rudge.

Very readable, very engaging!

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