Cricket, Literature and Culture by Anthony Bateman

By Anthony Bateman

In his very important contribution to the starting to be box of activities literature, Anthony Bateman lines the connection among literary representations of cricket and Anglo-British nationwide identification from 1850 to the mid Nineteen Eighties. analyzing newspaper money owed, tutorial books, fiction, poetry, and the paintings of editors, anthologists, and historians, Bateman elaborates the ways that an extended culture of literary discourse produced cricket's cultural prestige and which means. His critique of writing approximately cricket results in the rediscovery of little-known texts and the reinterpretation of recognized works by means of authors as assorted as Neville Cardus, James Joyce, the nice struggle poets, and C.L.R. James. starting with mid-eighteenth century bills of cricket that offer crucial history, Bateman examines the literary evolution of cricket writing opposed to the backdrop of key old moments equivalent to the nice struggle, the 1926 common Strike, and the increase of Communism. a number of case reviews express that cricket at the same time asserted English beliefs and created anxiousness approximately imperialism, whereas cricket's distinctively colonial aesthetic is highlighted via Bateman's exam of the discourse surrounding colonial cricket excursions and cricketers like Prince Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji of India and Sir Learie Constantine of Trinidad. that includes an in depth bibliography, Bateman's publication indicates that, whereas the discourse surrounding cricket used to be key to its prestige as a logo of state and empire, the embodied perform of the game served to destabilise its proven cultural which means within the colonial and postcolonial contexts.

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11 Nevertheless, the status of cricket in the eighteenth century remained a matter of contestation. Cricket was gradually emerging as an element of the national culture in part through discourses of moral censure. Puritans in particular continued to condemn the game as an abomination, with the aristocracy’s increased involvement in cricket invoking the strongest wrath. In 1712 a tract entitled ‘The Devil and his Peers, or a Princely Way of Sabbath Breaking’, recounted ‘a famous cricket match between the Duke of M …, another Lord and two boys, for twenty guineas’.

Fleming, 1754), 2. 21 It was cricket’s quintessential Englishness that Wordsworth evoked in his sonnet of 1802 entitled ‘Composed in the Valley Near Dover, on the Day of Landing’, one of a series of poems ‘Dedicated to National Independence and Liberty’ written after Wordsworth had renounced his early revolutionary views. Here a boys’ meadowland cricket match is one of a series of images figuring an idealised pastoral England. This landscape symbolises political freedom in contrast to abjected postrevolutionary France from which the disenchanted speaker has just returned: Here, on our native soil we breathe once more.

It is striking that the majority of these references relate to its unlawful status. As well as being a corrective to the misguided notion that cricket has always enjoyed an exalted standing, these sources show the game as emerging into life from discourses of prohibition and censure.  In 1629, having been censured for playing ‘at Cricketts’, the curate of Ruckinge in Kent unsuccessfully defended himself on the grounds that it was a game played by men of quality.  Cricket was here emerging in a written sense, not through the form of a celebratory discourse, but as the target of Puritan and Sabbatarian ire.

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