‘A dozen pages in I realized that I had been waiting for much of my life to read this extraordinary book’ Annie Proulx
A way of life that once encompassed most of humanity is vanishing in one of the greatest transformations of our time: the eclipse of the rural world by the urban.
In this new history of peasantry, Patrick Joyce tells the story of this lost world and its people. In contrast to the usual insulting stereotypes, we discover a rich and complex culture: traditions, songs, celebrations and revolts, across Europe from the plains of Poland to the farmsteads and villages of Italy and Ireland, through the nineteenth century to the present day. Into this passionate history, written with exquisite care, Joyce weaves remarkable individual stories, including those of his own Irish family, and looks at how peasant life has been remembered - and misremembered - in contemporary culture.
This is a people whose voice is vastly underrepresented in human history. Yet for Joyce, we are all the children of peasants, who must respect the experience of our ancestors. This is particularly pressing when our knowledge of the land is being lost to climate crisis and the rise of industrial agriculture. Enlightening, timely and vital, this book commemorates an extraordinary culture whose impact on our history and our future remains profoundly relevant.
A dozen pages in I realized that I had been waiting for much of my life to read this extraordinary book. Anyone who has ever tried to unravel the intertwined skeins of ancestry, sociology, music, geography and history will gape at Joyce’s skill. On almost every page the reader gets a jolt, a palpable sensation of immersion in the disappeared world of peasantry. A central part of the book is Joyce’s own family’s peasant past. I too, like many people, am only two generations and one language away from these ancestors. Because the time of the peasants is still palpable there are clues and messages here for every fortunate reader who picks up this book. -- Annie Proulx
A first-class work combining social history and ethnohistory with an unerring sense for a good story. * Kirkus *
PRAISE FOR GOING TO MY FATHER'S HOUSE: A haunting meditation ... I admired the originality of his observations and his tone of melancholy, calm wisdom. -- Colm Toibin * Books of the Year 2021, Guardian *
This is a rare kind of writing, a form of meditation on the societies that are forming and melting around us in the present. Only a voice such as this can alert us to these historical worlds. -- Seaumas Deane
I can't think of another historian around who could write something so suggestive and profound, so much on both a minor and major scale, constantly tracing the connections between the two. -- Paul Ginsbourg
Dimensions: 240mm x 162mm x 36mm