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eBook formateBook, (torrent)En
PublisherRough Guides
File size1.6 Mb
Release date 01.01.1994
Book rating3.7 (1 votes)
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Towards the end of the 1980s the New Zealand historian J O C Phillips published his excellent history of New Zealand Pakeha masculinity A Man’s Country? and quickly came under fire from some of our more conservative practitioners of the discipline for relying on novels for large sections of the discussion of 19th century male culture; this criticism confused the fictional with the unreal. Hugh de Selincourt’s thoroughly enjoyable mid ‘20s comic novel about a village cricket match in the fictional Surrey village of Tillingford is a fine piece of evidence for why we should not do that.

The story turns around a match against a neighbouring village, Raveley. It has passion, laughter, joy and pleasure as well as disquiet over the seeming ‘ring-in’, drama as the match draws to a close, hero worship on the part of lads for the fathers and elders and what the British sports historians Dick Holt and Tony Mason called the “quiet harbours of casual exertion and sociability” that are sports clubs. What is more, the novel takes place over the course of the day from players awakening to Tillingford fielding and the day drawing to a close.

Light, witty and with a sharp eye for both the foibles of the game and subtle and not so subtle hierarchies and relations of village life. Even as the game plays itself out and class relations spread across the oval – itself a solely masculine space – competency and civility weave together to ensure that feelings are, as much as possible, not hurt while doing as much as can be done to enhance the chance of winning. This is a fabulous study of the cultural order that is sport and the social order that is the village. In short, it is excellent evidence that Phillips’ critics were wrong, and the novel and fine historical source. On top of that, it is a delightful read.

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