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Promises to Keep Hardcover – 10 Sep 2005
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"Hoggart's accounts are rich in detail and in personal leaps of imagination, doubts and tremors." "a reflective book, with a conversational style, which made me think about the 'discourse of empathy' and the potential contribution of cultural studies to enlarge gerontology's disciplinary foundations." Ageing and Society Vol.27-2007, Cambridge University Press--Sanford Lakoff
About the Author
Richard Hoggart now lives in retirement. His book The Uses of Literacy was and remains a seminal text. He is the father of the influential journalist Simon Hoggart. Last year Continuum published his Mass Media in a Mass Society.
Top customer reviews
Having just retired and, with my wife, moved to be near our children and grand-children, I found a good deal with which to sympathise and, generally, felt encouraged if I should also live into my late 80s or even beyond, and in reasonable health. Hoggart quotes a lot from the writers who have spoken to him most closely and also from common wisdom, and it is the latter that helps him define his outlook: seize the day and live as though one will live forever. "Depending on mood," he writes, "I seem to swing between the two epigrams, though leaning more toward the second."
Although a reader who doesn't know Richard Hoggart will only know him through his writing, I would also like to benefit from the reflections of someone who keeps "going on going on" (another to epigram he borrows during the book and at the end) but without the help of being a writer, an activity which fills up a lot of time and gives purpose - that of leaving something behind. To that extent, the book didn't quite meet my needs, but that is hardly Hoggart's fault.
The book's ordinariness is its strength and weakness. Hoggart seems to have been quite down-to-earth in his often high-profile public career - probably a consequence of the material poverty of his early years - and, rarely does he show off, and even then it is to make a point about what old age does to self-esteem. He is also modest enough to defer to writers whose insights into his main themes are particularly "sombre", a word whose meaning he has come to appreciate. Shakespeare is quoted most often, followed by Tennyson and W. H. Auden. And the opening and closing chapters, "Realising that Old Age Has Arrived" and "Epilogue: Among Thoughts of Death", are quietly moving. The middle chapters are ordinary in a less interesting way: his discussion of the Cold War, the family, personal preoccupations, and British intellectual life add little to common knowledge and, occasionally, sound platitudinous. Hoggart makes no claims for his literary style but he is repetitive and the many clauses between dashes work less well than they would in an academic book.
Even so, Richard Hoggart's "thoughts in old age" are well-worth sharing. He comes across, as he does in his professional writings, as thoroughly decent and, in his way, a model of how to try and be "a part of all that I have met", as Tennyson puts it in words that mean a lot to Hoggart.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
He was a wise and brilliant man, but his writing does not flow smoothly. Often I had to reread sentences to understand what they meant. Another aspect that will make it difficult for the American reader is the fact that Hoggart rose through the academic ranks from an extremely poor, English, working-class family, and the influence of his deprived background seems to have been one of his main concerns throughout his life. I just wonder if American readers would "get" that.
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