By A. Roger Ekirch
Bringing mild to the shadows of historical past via a "rich weave of quotation and archival evidence" (Publishers Weekly), student A. Roger Ekirch illuminates the features of existence customarily ignored by means of different historians—those that spread at evening.
In this "triumph of social history" (Mail on Sunday), Ekirch's "enthralling anthropology" (Harper's) exposes the nightlife that spawned a special tradition and a shelter from day-by-day life.
Fear of crime, of fireplace, and of the supernatural; the significance of moonlight; the elevated prevalence of affliction and loss of life at evening; night gatherings to spin wool and tales; masqued balls; lodges, taverns, and brothels; the suggestions of thieves, assassins, and conspirators; the protecting makes use of of incantations, meditations, and prayers; the character of our predecessors' sleep and dreams—Ekirch finds most of these and extra in his "monumental study" (The Nation) of sociocultural historical past, "maintaining all through an infectious feel of wonder" (Booklist).
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Extra info for At Day's Close: Night in Times Past
Following Hirsch's analysis, Holloway and Picciotto argue that the separation of the state from the economy limits the ability of the former to intervene directly in the latter. If the state oversteps this limit to intervene directly the politicisation of capitalist competition fragments the state apparatus politically and administratively. Thus the development of the state is marked by 'the contradictory interaction of the necessity and limits arising from the contradictions of capitalist reproduction', which involves struggles not only over the scale of state intervention, but more fundamentally over the forms of that intervention.
They criticised Gough's adoption of Poulantzas's 'over-politicised' conception of the state, but only on the grounds that Gough's neo-Ricardianism allowed too much autonomy to the state. Thus they could agree with Poulantzas that the state is 'determined in the last instance by the economic', but 'conditioned by the political and ideological balance of forces', while criticising him for giving insufficient attention to the constraints of the economy, but they did not offer any alternative conceptualisation of the relationship between the 'economic' and the 'political'.
In the paper reproduced here, and in their volume on the state debate, they reject the 'superficiality' of the first formulation and the 'eclecticism' of the second to adhere firmly to Hirsch's explanation that it is the 'freedom' of wage-labour which makes the separation of the state from civil society both possible and necessary. ) However, much of the substance of their argument continues to be informed by Blanke, Jurgens and Kastendijk's focus on the state as a legal form of domination, as against Hirsch's emphasis on the state as a coercive apparatus.