The industry of culture

Eric Hobsbawm and the predicament of ‘high culture’

The industry of culture

Fractured Times: Culture and Society in the Twentieth Century

by Eric Hobsbawm

Little, Brown, $50 hb, 344 pp, 9781408704288

As he approached his fiftieth birthday, Eric Hobsbawm finally won recognition. His Primitive Rebels (1959) was an innovative study of millenarian rural movements. In 1962 he published The Age of Revolution, the first of four books that encompassed the modern era with unrivalled powers of synthesis, and his volume on Labouring Men (1964) gathered up incisive essays on labour history that had appeared over the previous decade. Hobsbawm’s academic career, which had been held back by membership of the Communist Party, was prospering: in 1959 he was promoted to Reader in History at Birkbeck College in London. He worked as the jazz critic for the New Statesman, and in the same year Penguin published his wide-ranging account ofThe Jazz Scene.

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Stuart Macintyre

Stuart Macintyre

Stuart Macintyre is the Ernest Scott Professor of History at the University of Melbourne. He is a co-editor of The Oxford History of Historical Writing: Volume 4, 1800–1945, which is to appear later this year, and is currently working on a history of postwar reconstruction.

Published in February 2014 no. 358