Nigel Smith’s A Collection of Ranter Writings was first published in 1983 and struck an immediate chord with radicals in a Britain sharply divided by Thatcherism, and the new 2014 edition hopes to strike a similar chord with the ‘Occupy’ generation.
Nigel Smith, currently Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature at Princeton, was in conversation about the thought, literature and legacy of the Ranters with Sir Stephen Sedley, formerly a judge in the Court of Appeal, frequent contributor to the LRB and an acknowledged authority on the history of English radicalism.
There’s an intriguing discussion on who the Ranters were, what they believed and who read them. Jon Langford and The Mekons are also discussed, bringing in a link to Ranting verse.
Folk singer Leon Rosselson also performs two of his songs at the event: ‘Abiezer Coppe’ and ‘The Diggers’.
You can hear Nigel Smith and Stephen Sedley’s discussion at the London Review of Books bookshop from July 2014, here