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The Professor

Marilyn Butler, 3 April 1980

A Fantasy of Reason: The Life and Thought of William Godwin 
by Don Locke.
Routledge, 398 pp., £13.50, January 1980, 0 7100 0387 0
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... stage.’ Even the duns the postman brought him in later life cannot have been worse than that. Don Locke has been sufficiently amused by the life and impressed by the philosophy to try to forge the two together in a ‘philosophical biography’. An academic philosopher himself, he regards Godwin’s one formally philosophic book, Political ...

Winner’s History

Howard Erskine-Hill, 20 August 1981

Some Intellectual Consequences of the English Revolution 
by Christopher Hill.
Weidenfeld, 100 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 297 77780 7
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The Century of Revolution, 1603-1714 
by Christopher Hill.
Nelson, 296 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 17 712002 9
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... Professor Hill’s account slides to and fro from causation to succession. For example: ‘Locke drew on the experiences of the revolutionary decades’ and is thus an ‘intellectual consequence’ of ‘the English Revolution’; and ‘the great revolution in human thought … echoed from England all over Europe … Harrington, ...

Newton reinvents himself

Jonathan Rée, 20 January 2011

Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World’s Greatest Scientist 
by Thomas Levenson.
Faber, 318 pp., £9.99, August 2010, 978 0 571 22993 2
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... was a hard problem; but something had to be done. One of the first to look into the issue was John Locke, who had always been a committed supporter of the Revolution. After spending most of the 1680s in political exile in the Dutch Republic, he had returned to England in triumph in February 1689. William immediately asked him to be his ambassador to ...

During the war and after the war

J.R. Pole, 11 January 1990

Oxford History of the United States. Vol. VI: Battle Cry of Freedom, The Civil War Era 
by James McPherson.
Oxford, 904 pp., $35, June 1988, 0 19 503863 0
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Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 
by Eric Foner.
Harper and Row, 690 pp., $21.95, April 1988, 0 06 015851 4
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... in sufficient detail to convince us that this was no trivial threat. Drawing on the work of Don Fehrenbacher and Paul Finkelman, McPherson also presents a very clear explanation of the significance of the Dred Scott case, in which the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Taney declared the Missouri Compromise of 1820 unconstitutional, and added for good ...

Beware of counterfeits

Dror Wahrman: 18th-century fakery, 6 June 2002

The Perreaus and Mrs Rudd: Forgery and Betrayal in 18th-Century London 
by Donna Andrew and Randall McGowen.
California, 346 pp., £24.95, November 2001, 0 520 22062 5
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The Smart: The True Story of Margaret Caroline Rudd and the Unfortunate Perreau Brothers 
by Sarah Bakewell.
Chatto, 321 pp., £17.99, April 2001, 9780701171094
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... finally, was provided by the prevalent philosophical-psychological wisdom: the belief running from Locke to Hartley that people were entirely dependent on external information transmitted by the senses confirmed man’s vulnerability to deception and false appearances. Everyone in 18th-century London was a potential impostor and those who realised this ...

What you see is what you get

Terry Eagleton: Bishop Berkeley, 25 April 2013

The Correspondence of George Berkeley 
edited by Marc Hight.
Cambridge, 674 pp., £75, November 2012, 978 1 107 00074 2
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... some ways, his thought is a lot closer to Nietzsche and poststructuralism than it is to Leibniz or Locke. It certainly has more in common with Finnegans Wake than with Middlemarch. The Irish novel from Gulliver’s Travels and Melmoth the Wanderer to Dracula and The Third Policeman has generally preferred fantasy to reality, and much Irish thought is idealist ...

Very very she

Margaret Anne Doody, 22 April 1993

The Works of Aphra Behn. Vol. I: Poetry 
edited by Janet Todd.
Pickering & Chatto, 481 pp., £55, September 1992, 1 85196 012 0
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Oroonoko, The Rover and Other Works 
by Aphra Behn, edited by Janet Todd.
Penguin, 385 pp., £6.99, November 1992, 0 14 043338 4
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... and no faith at all in Whig puritans. That these two things, baroque style and monarchism, don’t necessarily go together we can see if we look at Milton, yet Milton, too, had no love of the middle class and despised its notions of propriety and decoration. Milton saved up his monarchism for heaven, and defended chopping the head off the living and ...

Common Thoughts

Eamon Duffy: Early Modern Ambition, 23 July 2009

The Ends of Life: Roads to Fulfilment in Early Modern England 
by Keith Thomas.
Oxford, 393 pp., £20, February 2009, 978 0 19 924723 3
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... and Christian orthodoxies informed early modern attitudes, so that the devoutly Protestant John Locke could assert on both counts that ‘labour for labour’s sake is against nature.’ There would be no work in heaven. But then in the second half of his chapter, on ‘the rewards of labour’, Thomas inverts this picture, tracing ‘the rudiments of an ...
... Butterfly abandoned-fine. Theseus, Heracles, Attila abandoned? No: Heracles mad, Prometheus bound, Don Carlos betrayed. Other bad things happen to men. They are blinded, tortured or exiled, like Philoctetes and Coriolanus, in a political, not a sexual, un-selving. So far, Western tragedy and opera have preferred to express the pain of sexual desertion through ...

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