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City of Laughter: Sex and Satire in Eighteenth Century London [Paperback]

Vic Gatrell
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Product Description


City of Laughter is not just a great book to look at. It is original in conception and in the raw materials on which it draws. It is deeply researched and smart as hell ... a bold, often breathtaking work of historical scholarship that challenges and enriches our understanding. ... Urban history writing at its best. ... In Gatrell's hands, laughter - and London itself - becomes a prism through which he can explore a broader cultural terrain. There is a great deal of absorbing detail about London in this provocative and stimulating book - but far more about the complex and conflicted process through which manners, morals and values changed and Victorian notions of respectability came into being. -- Matt Houlbrook, Times Higher Education Supplement 1 June 2007 Matt Houlbrook, Times Higher Education Supplement June 2007

His astonishing book is a combination of first-rate exhibition catalogue, landmark work of social history, and compendium of gossip, scandal and very lewd jokes. It is rare to read such a serious, indeed highly academic work which also feels like going to a fiesta. Only the most joyless prude could resist its sheer exuberance. ... a provocative, opinionated book ... a major work of academic scholarship.
-- Matthew J.Reisz, Slightly Foxed, Autumn 2007

One can only stand in awe when contemplating Gatrell's achievement. ... His industry and commitment are prodigious. ... And there is a larger issue here than the straightforward energy of the medium of the satirical print: it concerned liberty and independence, a freedom of mind that could either tell the truth to power, or simply laugh at everything. It couldn't last: an age of moralising dawned, and you could make a case for saying that we're still living in it. So all the more reason for cherishing this book, which celebrates, as Gatrell puts it, "our great, louche, comic tradition" ... This is a work that will keep you entertained for months. -- Nicholas Lezard, Paperback Choice, The Guardian, October 2007

From the Publisher

Winner of the Wolfson Prize for History 2006-7;
Winner of The PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History 2006-7;
Listed for BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for all non-fiction 2006-7;
Shortlisted for Banister Fletcher Prize for Art History 2007

From the Author

Awarded the Wolfson Prize for History, 2006-7, and PEN
International's Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History, 2006-7. Listed for the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize, 2007

From the Back Cover

'A wonderfully original, surprising, informative, fascinating
and entertaining book. For years historians have been describing the rise
of polite culture and polite manners in eighteenth-century London. Gatrell
has spent those years examining the vast and almost entirely unresearched
archive of comic and bawdy prints that tell us what made Londoners laugh
around 1800. He tells us instead about the rudeness in the streets, the
bedrooms, that taverns and the brothels, that pointed its joyful arse at
the polite world.' - Professor John Barrell, University of York --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Vic Gatrell is professor of British history at the University of Essex, a life fellow of Gonville and Caius College, and a member of the Cambridge history faculty. His last book, The Hanging Tree, was chosen by Linda Colley and Jeremy Paxman as their 'Book of the Year'.
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