Alex Massie

Howzat for Culture?

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I've mentioned CLR James' Beyond A Boundary before now, but searching a moment ago for something else I came across this 1984 review in the The New York Times. The author asks:

It is... hard to tell how much of what Mr. James says is playful hyperbole and how much is passionate advocacy. Can he be entirely serious when he writes, ''I believe and hope to prove that cricket and football were the greatest cultural influences in 19th-century Britain, leaving far behind Tennyson's poems, Beardsley's drawings and concerts of the Philharmonic Society''?

Well, would anyone take the other side of this argument? That is to say, who would claim seriously that Tennyson, Beardsley and the dear old Philharmonic were greater cultural influences than cricket and football? And not just upon Britain, neither...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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