Imatge de l'autor

John Bossy (1933–2015)

Autor/a de Christianity in the West 1400-1700

12+ obres 461 Membres 9 Ressenyes

Sobre l'autor

John Bossy is emeritus professor of history at the University of York.

Obres de John Bossy

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Recusant History, vol. 6, no. 5, April 1962 (1962) — Col·laborador — 1 exemplars


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I can well imagine someone throwing this book out of their window, but if like this kind of thing, you'll like it. Bossy calls this an essay, and that's quite accurate: there's no narrative, little political history, lots of generalization, and a tremendously unhelpful structure, which makes it almost impossible to know what is actually in a given chapter. Broadly speaking, he writes about changes to family structure, the understanding of sin, and the degree to which Christianity during different periods matched up with Durkheim's idea about religion being a projection of society.

If this sounds interesting, you might plunge in, but with the warning that Bossy's prose tends to the Jamesian, which can obscure rather than clarify. It's very well-written, it's just not easy to read. If you have a decent story in your head about the period, then, this is a very worthwhile book. If you're looking for an explanation of why the Reformation happened, rather than musings on what the Reformation did to pre-Reformation Christianity, you might need to put off reading this for a while.
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stillatim | Hi ha 3 ressenyes més | Oct 23, 2020 |

The late great John Bossy was a family friend, and my sister's godfather; his best book is still Christianity in the West, 1400-1700, but towards the end of his career he achieved a remarkable coup of winning both the Wolfson History Prize and the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction for Giordano Bruno and the Embassy Affair, which examined the connections between the Renaissance philosopher and the murky world of espionage in Elizabethan London. This short, dense book concerns one particular wrinkle of the wider story of which Giordano Bruno was also part - identifying the individual who at a crucial moment stole the French ambassador's correspondence and passed it to the agents of Queen Elizabeth.

I came to this soon after reading the story of Alexander Wilson, and it is salutary to reflect on how much intelligence-gathering had changed across the centuries. What we can see of the Elizabethan world is based very much on the transmission of written records; the nascent bureaucracy of the state required hard copies, as it were. Obviously the whispered conversations do not survive, but Bossy feels pretty confident that by putting all the pieces together - and allowing for various mis-dating of key documents over time - he is able to give us a picture of what was happening in and around the French embassy in London in the 1580s, and who it was that exposed the ambassador's secrets.

Having said that, this is a book where the trees are more important than the forest, and I'd have liked a few more signposts along the way to remind us of why the story is important. It's all there, but one has to dig for it a bit, and I think the book needs to be taken as a close sequel to Giordano Bruno and the Embassy Affair, which I read a very long time ago.
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nwhyte | Hi ha 2 ressenyes més | Aug 27, 2019 |
Like Bossy's earlier work, a bit too dense to be readable and too speculative to be interesting. But I very much like how Bossy lays out his intellectual process for the reader, at the very least, and his revisitations of earlier conclusions.
JBD1 | Hi ha 2 ressenyes més | Feb 23, 2014 |
Bossy identifies Giordano Bruno as Henry Fagot, a secret agent reporting to Francis Walsingham from within the French embassy in London. But, as Bossy himself admits in a preface, this identification isn't based on very solid evidence. The book is too dense to be very readable, and too speculative to be very interesting, I'm sad to say.
JBD1 | Hi ha 1 ressenya més | Jan 9, 2014 |


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