- The Political Imagination in History: Essays concerning J. G. A. Pocock
One might describe John Pocock as the most distinguished intellectual historian alive, were it not for his preference for describing himself as a historian of languages or intellectual activities, “working on ideas in time.” In this volume, seven scholars assess his work, while Pocock himself is represented by a previously unpublished essay of 1978 on the 1628 Parliament. Unlike most volumes in this genre, homage to the protagonist and accounts of his intellectual development are mixed with criticisms, some of them severe. Michael McKeon, for instance, takes apart the notion of “civic humanism,” while the editor accuses Pocock of failing to notice that some of his Neo-Harringtonian texts were satirical. On the other side, Gordon Schochet and Glenn Burgess treat the notion of the “ancient constitution” with more respect. Whether they nod in agreement or groan in exasperation, Pocock’s numerous admirers will find much to interest them in this collection. [End Page 487]
Peter Burke is professor of cultural history at Cambridge University and a fellow of Emmanuel College. He is the author of some dozen books, including What Is Cultural History? A Social History of Knowledge, Eyewitnessing, History and Social Theory, The French Historical Revolution, The Fabrication of Louis XIV, Languages and Communities in Early Modern Europe, The Historical Anthropology of Early Modern Italy, and The Art of Conversation.