Allen Lane has pre-empted a "profoundly significant" history of peasanthood by social historian Patrick Joyce.
Tom Penn, publishing director at Penguin Press, pre-empted world all-languages rights to Remembering Peasants from John Ash at PEW Literary. Allen Lane will publish the book in spring 2023.
The publisher said the book "explores a people whose voice is vastly underrepresented, and all too often mediated through others". There is currently no trade book on the peasantry, Joyce says, and yet peasanthood is a way of life that has existed for millennia. But it is now vanishing—and in some places it has vanished altogether.
Joyce is emeritus professor of history at Manchester University. His academic work revolves around questions of class and the nature of power. Remembering Peasants tells a "sweeping global story by focusing on three places on the edges of modern Europe: the west of Ireland, where his own family lived and worked; Italy’s Mezzogiorno; and Polish Galicia". It is described by the publisher as "a richly complex, deeply resonant history, exploring a section of humanity whose relationship with and knowledge of the land is being irretrievably damaged in our time of climate crisis."
Joyce said: “Peasants are the forgotten class, their only recent vanishing in Europe and beyond raising barely a murmur of recognition. I write out of direct experience of the vanished worlds of peasants, the world of my parents, both Irish rural immigrants to Britain. The book aims to describe this vanishing, to recall what has in Europe west to east gone before what we are now. How do we, and how might we, remember now what is past, that which is gone but is not over? I am delighted that Penguin will be publishing Remembering Peasants.”
Penn added: “We are thrilled to be working with Patrick Joyce on this beautiful and profoundly significant book, one that documents the disappearance, within living memory, of a people whose lives were bound to the earth. Remembering Peasants is an act of recovery, a book that reminds us what it means to live symbiotically with the land, at a time when we have all but forgotten how to do so.”
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