W.G. Runciman 1934-2020
W.G. Runciman, who died on 10 December, wrote 32 pieces for the LRB. The first, ‘On the State of the Left’, a review of The Forward March of Labour Halted? by Eric Hobsbawm, Ken Gill and Tony Benn, appeared in December 1981. The last, in January 2016, was a Diary about the regulation of the City of London. Others were on less serious (or should that be no less serious) subjects such as a review of The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook, published on 1 April 1983, which begins with an account of Malinowski’s anthropological method and goes on to consider its application to the inhabitants of SW3, 1, 7, 10, 6 and 5, while also taking into account the sociological theories of Weber and Veblen:
The fundamental sociological point that the Handbook makes, and Veblen would wholeheartedly endorse, is that Sloanes are ‘a living museum of old modes of behaviour’. The authors have rightly discerned that what the accoutrements and appurtenances of Sloane life unwittingly reveal is a 19th-century view of the 18th century, sustained and exemplified by token symbols of warrior/landowner gentrydom, which would be quite unrecognisable to a real Fielding squire.
Who in 1983 would have expected to see so many of them, more than thirty years later, engineering Britain’s departure from the EU and sitting on the government front bench?