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Barbarism and Religion (Volume 1) Hardcover – October 28, 1999

2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521633451 ISBN-10: 0521633451 Edition: First Edition

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Editorial Reviews


"Thus we come back to the English Enlightenment and the point from which John Pocock set out on his magnificent tour de force" Nicholas Tyacke, Times Literary Supplement

"...one admires the breadth of his erudition. Indeed, like Gibbon, [J.G.A. Pocock] is a truly enlightened historian, one who takes ideas seriously and who has no patience for those of our own age who would 'deny the reality of authors and the readability of texts.'" T.H. Breen, New York Times Book Review

"John Pocock is the doyen of contemporary intellectual historians. His eagerly awaited book is a major event in the study of Gibbon in his intellectual context." Professor John Burrow, Balliol College, Oxford

"If there is a single target of my criticism it is the concept of 'The Enlightenment,' as a unified phenomenon with a single history and definition, but the criticism is directed more against the article than against the noun. I have no quarrel with the concept of Enlightenment; I merely contend that it occurred in too many forms to be comprised within a single definition and history, and that we do better to think of a family of Enlightenments, displaying both family resemblances and family quarrels (some of them bitter and even bloody)..." --From the Introduction to Volume 1

"...an ambitious effort to examine the enlightenment through Gibbon's eyes." David Armitage, Lingua Franca

"This is a lucidly written, highly intelligent work." Greenwich, CT Time

Book Description

In this first volume, The Enlightenments of Edward Gibbon, John Pocock follows Gibbon through his youthful exile in Switzerland and his criticisms of the Encyclopédie, and traces the growth of his historical interests down to the conception of the Decline and Fall itself.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; First Edition edition (October 28, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521633451
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521633451
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,026,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Chazzee on February 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is the introductory volume to Pocock's masterful study of Gibbon and the Enlightenment. The volume is readable and intensely well-written--clarifying abstract and arcane philosophical and historical minutiae with finesse and grace. The historian's writing style is easily gotten used to and anyone who's read Gibbon will certainly appreciate the aesthetics of Pocock's narrative. Readers used to Hemingway's style might find some getting used to the longer paragraphs but even the Grand Old Man appreciated master storytellers. And Pocock is surely that and more. This is easily the greatest work by one of the greatest English-speaking historians in history.

Pocock's master-plan is ambitious and you might need to reread some chapters to get the full impact and import of what he's saying. He marshals some powerful analytical tools to arrange his material but the technical apparatus rarely shows, unless you go looking for it. Should yo do so, you'll find not only a master narrativist but also a formidable philosopher working behind the scenes.

The book, as you might guess, is not simply about Gibbon the historian. It is also about how historians write history and how, especially, the historian is influenced by the ideas and assumptions of their lives and the times they live in and through. In this way, Pocock's work here is as much about Gibbon as it is about the Enlightenment. Therefore, in the process of delving into Gibbon's life and thought, we also come into contact with Hume, Voltaire, and Adam Smith.

Pocock unearths some starling angles of interpretation on the Enlightenment that undermine the stereotypes of that era. Perhaps one of Pocock's more arresting assertions is that there was not just one Enlightenment but several Enlightenments. This insight alone is worth the price and time spent on getting the entire series.
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16 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Cossimo on July 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
This a masterful display of Pocock's ability to marshal the minutia of history over and against the History under discussion - judging great works by a morass of trivia. The difficulty with such a discussion of Gibbon is its ability to tyrannize the reader's perception of a work by appealing to such a vast amount of data. There is no doubt Pocock may be correct concerning every single point, but one cannot know on his authority alone.
The book has scholarly merit, but it should be the last thing on anyone's list who wants to understand Gibbon on Gibbon's own terms.
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Barbarism and Religion (Volume 1)
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