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Frank Kermode: Blasphemy

14 January 2002
Blasphemy: Impious Speech in the West from the 17th to the 19th Century 
by Alain Cabantous, translated by Eric Rauth.
Columbia, 288 pp., £21.50, February 2002, 0 231 11876 7
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... with a rope round his neck. By the end of the 18th century, when the British were ruthlessly persecuting political dissidents on blasphemy charges, there were hardly any prosecutions in America. M. Cabantous is interested in mentalités and is the author of works on mutiny and the pillaging of wrecks. Coming now to blasphemy, he seeks to show how that practice, like those of piracy and mutiny ...

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