Did Kingsley Amis make these guys up?
March 17, 2008 7:55 PM   Subscribe

In On Drink and Everyday Drinking Kingsley Amis lauds two American researchers who allegedly concluded that without alcohol, Western civilisation would have collapsed in 1912. They are briefly named as Hoyt and Roths in the first book. I cannot find anything further online about these marvellous people, and the books in question are lightweight potboilers with no references.

Auberon Waugh cites Amis in the first book here, and I own a copy of the second book, where they are referred to but not named. Did Amis make them up? If not, did he bungle or distort their findings? And where might I find out more about them?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen to Society & Culture (2 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Damnit, Waugh spells it "Rothes" with an e. I don't know how I missed that.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:27 PM on March 17, 2008

I hate Kingsley Amis but I did the searching anyway (that's what I get for being a librarian who enjoys historical research, but I'm more of medical person than a social sciences person).

I searched old British newspaper databases for "hoyt AND alcohol" and found this citation: "Publications reviewed and noticed—"Alcohol: a general economic study: its bearings upon Agriculture, Commerce, Legislation, Taxation, and individual and social Hygiene" 26 December 1912 (Page 3 col b)" in Palmer's Index to The Times (the British newspaper, not the NYTimes).

It looks like they reviewed this book and either the review or the info about the book includes the word Hoyt (e.g. Hoyt could be the name of the reviewer-- this is not well-explained). I don't have access to copies of The Times from 1912 (and googling for the title or free access to The Times from 1912 proved futile) so I can't investigate it further but maybe you can.

I would recommend talking to your local librarian (if you have access, a college or university one may be your best shot). You have a few pieces of the puzzle (British writer who was probably referring to a western-created study, could be a satirical reference so perhaps the authors didn't intend to make this finding, happened in 1912, some kind of "study" on alcohol, probably more of a social/economic focus than a medical focus). You might also try looking for other books/journal articles about critical interpretations of Amis' work.

This is going to require quite a bit of work on your part, though-- items from pre-1950 are poorly indexed and rarely online, and will require more intellectual effort and legwork to track down than more recent things. Think of it as your contribution to Amis-related scholarship!
posted by holyrood at 5:19 PM on March 18, 2008

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