Introduction
in The crisis of theory
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This book explores the different aspects of Edward Palmer Thompson's life and work. It uses Thompson's 1978 book, The Poverty of Theory and Other Essays to focus the enquiries. The first part of this chapter investigates Thompson's family and social background, and it looks at the early experiences that helped determine the path his life would follow. Part II evaluates the turbulent years Thompson spent in Britain's New Left, to see how his political frustrations were converted into academic triumphs. The next part follows Thompson through the crucial decade of the 1970s, and sees how the crisis of his political thought drove him close to despair, but also stimulated him to think in highly innovative ways. The last part discusses Thompson's last years, which were marked by both unprecedented public fame and intellectual decline. Thompson's interest in marginal people and societies was motivated by more than sympathy.

The crisis of theory

EP Thompson, the New Left and postwar British politics

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