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Reason, Love and Life

Christopher Hill

20 November 1980
The Letters of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester 
edited by Jeremy Treglown.
Blackwell, 275 pp., £21, September 1980, 9780631128311
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... not the sort of thing the average seducer wastes his time on. Dying, almost certainly of VD, at the age of 33, Rochester – extravagant to the last – was spectacularly converted to Christianity by GilbertBurnet. He thus became a moral story for all rakes and a mystery for later critics. Professor Pinto suggested that Rochester was trying to escape from ‘a world which had been suddenly transformed ...

Utopia in Texas

Glen Newey: Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’

19 January 2017
Utopia 
by Thomas More, edited by George M. Logan, translated by Robert M. Adams.
Cambridge, 141 pp., £9.99, August 2016, 978 1 107 56873 0
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Utopia 
by Thomas More, translated by Gilbert Burnet.
Verso, 216 pp., £8.99, November 2016, 978 1 78478 760 8
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... bring ruin. It’s as if the more ‘ideal’ its prescriptions get, the more Utopia insists on its own nullity. Verso’s new edition bookends a translation from 1684 by the Scottish Anglican divine GilbertBurnet with an introduction by China Miéville and a series of concluding essays by Ursula Le Guin. Miéville decks More in punk garb while arguing, plausibly, that capitalism by its nature rules out ...

Doomed to Sincerity

Germaine Greer: Rochester as New Man

16 September 1999
The Works of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester 
edited by Harold Love.
Oxford, 712 pp., £95, April 1999, 0 19 818367 4
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... worthy’, but as a rake of the most rapacious and an infidel of blackest dye, rescued on his deathbed from certain damnation by the man she would come to know for an unprincipled humbug, GilbertBurnet. She must have known that the role Burnet cast for himself in Some Passages in the Life and Death of the Earl of Rochester was a lie; Rochester’s steward wrote to Sir Ralph Verney that ...

Carry up your Coffee boldly

Thomas Keymer: Jonathan Swift

16 April 2014
Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World 
by Leo Damrosch.
Yale, 573 pp., £25, November 2013, 978 0 300 16499 2
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Parodies, Hoaxes, Mock Treatises: ‘Polite Conversation’, ‘Directions to Servants’ and Other Works 
by Jonathan Swift, edited by Valerie Rumbold.
Cambridge, 821 pp., £85, July 2013, 978 0 521 84326 3
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Journal to Stella: Letters to Esther Johnson and Rebecca Dingley, 1710-13 
by Jonathan Swift, edited by Abigail Williams.
Cambridge, 800 pp., £85, December 2013, 978 0 521 84166 5
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... a Whig in Ireland but a Tory in England, in another like a Whig in politics but a Tory in religion. Even these identities were unstable. A pamphlet Swift wrote in 1701 was mistaken for the work of GilbertBurnet, a hardline Whig propagandist, but ten years later he was an official spokesman for the Tory ministry, and by 1715 his mail was being intercepted and opened on grounds of suspected Jacobitism ...

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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...  as so often in Behn – the ironic unreal bridge of writing itself. In dealing with Rochester, Behn not only ignores the deathbed conversion described and widely promoted by that writing bishop, GilbertBurnet, but also all the opprobrium flung at Rochester’s head. Much more than Lord Byron, Rochester was considered mad, bad and dangerous to know. His own relatives were disgusted with him, and ...

Not Mackintosh

Chris Miele

6 April 1995
‘Greek’ Thomson 
edited by Gavin Stamp and Sam McKinstry.
Edinburgh, 249 pp., £35, September 1994, 0 7486 0480 4
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... whose Free Church College of 1855-7 also features a portico raised above a high base and highlighted by towers. What distinguishes Thomson from even his most talented contemporaries, such as John Burnet Sr, or the Gothically inclined J.J. Stevenson, is the degree to which he was ready to pare down forms to their simplest state. His work is blunt to the point of primitivism, and Gavin Stamp astutely ...

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