E.H. Carr

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“He's the best Carr...in the world!”
~ Jeremy Clarkson on E.H. Carr

Edmund Halibut Carr was a famous left wing historian and tennis champion whose book 'So this is History, Eh?' secured his place as the Godfather of Soul and modern historiographical study. He also had a long running feud with rival historian G.R. Elton, culminating in the much publicised Elton/Carr boxing match. Carr famously won the match and was crowned the Heavy Weight Champion of Historiographical Study.

edit Early Life

As a Marxist, Carr didn't have actual parents, instead he had two archetypes of the class structure he was born into. This led Carr, from the age of four onwards, to refer to his father as 'Archetypal Domineering Victorian Patriarch' and his mother as 'Archetypal Submissive Victorian Matriarch'. This annoyed his parents so much that they sent him off to boarding school to avoid his constant Marxist classification of everything.

After leaving his boarding school Carr went to Cambridge University to study Classics, as for some reason History wasn't considered 'serious' enough for young Edmund to study. It was during his time at Cambridge that Carr began to experiment with drugs. Carr soon developed a penchant for heroin, and his essay 'Heroin: It's my Wife and It's my Life' was to inspire the famous song by The Velvet Underground of the same name. Despite his heavy usage of drugs, Carr earned a First in Classics and went on to have a successful career as a banjo act in the thriving Music Hall tradition that continued unabated in England at the time.

So this is history

'So this is history, eh?' by E.H. Carr. Note the trendy surrealist front cover by Magritte to show how fucking rock star Carr is.

edit 'So this is History, Eh?'

It was soon after the release of 'The History of the Soviet Union' that Carr decided to, finally, write a book. Robert Plant had helped Carr learn how to write properly after Carr had toured his short lived 'Carr and the Magic Band' with Led Zeppelin. With this new found literacy Carr decided to examine the nature of history itself. Carr kicked his heroin habit and locked himself away in a Berlin hotel room for thirty days, devising a series of lectures that he could compile into a single book. The result of these feverish days was 'So this is History, Eh?', one of the early classics of modern historiographical study.

In the book, Carr tackled a series of issues in History with chapter names such as 'Why things happen after one another in History' and 'History is a fucking science you idiot, just because we don't use a microscope doesn't mean it's not a science'. Carr presented History as a 'constant argument between the present and the past' in which the historian shapes the History he writes and is in turn shaped by the time in which he is writing. It is wrong, however, to say Carr was suggesting that there are no facts in History, as he himself said 'What the fuck would History be without facts?', but he was suggesting that in writing History we are inherently biased by our limited perspective. Carr's book, although hated by his Rock chums for being too complicated, become an acclaimed classic of historiography.

edit Opposition from Elton

Not everyone loved Carr's cheeky relativistic approach to History, however. Geoffrey Elton, acclaimed historian of the tudor period, was plotting his revenge. He was not nearly as trendy as Carr and was jealous of his Rock 'n' Roll background. When Carr appeared on the front cover of The Daily Mail snorting a line off John Entwistle's guitar Elton decided enough was enough. He promptly wrote his book 'Thinking about and doing History', which argued that History was a far more objective affair in which the Historian, with proper scholarship and training, can understand the nature of the past. Elton also referred to Carr as 'Mr. Carp' (a reference to E.H. Carr's aquatic middle name 'Halibut') and widely made fun of the fact his parents considered him an accident. He even claimed in his chapter named 'Research' that Carr was infact the illegitimate love child of Elton's uncle and Carr's mother.

edit The Brawl in the Hall

When Carr read Elton's book he was furious. He immediately wrote a scathing article in The Times in which he challenged Elton to 'go fourteen rounds in the ring of pain' with himself. Carr later revealed he had never intended Elton to take him up on the offer, and was shocked when Elton replied saying that he was ready for him. Boxing supremo Don King agreed to manage both of the fighters and the date was set on 21st April 1968 for the match up. Taking place in the Royal Albert Hall, it soon took on the name 'The Brawl in the Hall' and was widely publicised throughout historical quarters. King knew that match was sure to be popular, with the widespread popularity of the televised A.J.P Taylor/Hugh Trevor-Roper bouts during the 50's showing the public's desire for historical boxing matches. Sure enough the event was a sell-out and attracted popular celebrities such as Sean Connery and George Best.

Details of the match are sketchy as both fighters refused any press or cameras to the event, but it is clear that Carr finally won after a long and drawn out struggle. According to one source, Carr was too high to even see Elton during the early rounds and so was dominated by his opponent for much of the match. As Carr began to comedown from his weed-induced stupour he suddenly made a realistion: the strength of Elton's punches were only relative to his own personal bias as a historian. Carr shouted this at Elton, causing Elton to stop and think. As Elton began to respond that his punches were part of an objective reality external from any historian, Carr swung at him with a powerful right hook. Elton was caught off guard and went down for the count. Carr was thus declared the winner by Knock Out in the Eighth Round and was crowned the Heavy Weight Champion of Historiographical Study.

edit Discography/Bibliography

  • The Dostoevsky Mask Replica, (LP) 1931
  • Bakunin the USSR, (LP) 1937
  • Marx is Murder, (Single) 1939
  • A History of Soviet Russia featuring the Magic Band, (14 CD LP) 1944-1967
  • So this is History, Eh?, London: Macmillan, 1968
  • Moscow Calling, (EP) 1976
  • Quarter to Eleven at the Comintern, London: Macmillan, 1982.
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