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Gibbon   By: (1832-1888)

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Gibbon by James Cotter Morison is an impressive literary venture that sheds light on the life and work of one of the most renowned historians in Western civilization — Edward Gibbon. Morison does an exceptional job in crafting an insightful and meticulously researched biography that not only brings to life the complexities of Gibbon's character but also delves into the historical context in which his masterpiece, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was written.

From its opening pages, Morison effortlessly captures the reader's attention, painting a vivid portrait of Gibbon's formative years and the influences that shaped his intellectual pursuits. Weaving together anecdotes from Gibbon's personal correspondence and detailed analysis of his written works, the author masterfully unravels the enigmatic persona of this eminent historian. Morison succeeds in portraying Gibbon as a multifaceted individual, combining his passions for learning, extensive travels, and his unwavering commitment to scholarship.

What sets this biography apart from other works is Morison's deep dive into the intellectual landscape of the 18th century, which played a critical role in the development of Gibbon's historical methodology. Morison elucidates the intellectual and philosophical ideas prevalent during Gibbon's time, including the Enlightenment and the influence of prominent figures such as Voltaire and Rousseau. By doing so, he effectively situates Gibbon's writings within their historical and ideological context, providing readers with a broader understanding of the motivations behind his magnum opus.

Morison's prose is engaging and accessible, making Gibbon's life and works accessible to both scholarly and general readers. While some might assume a biography of a historian might be dry or daunting, Morison's lively narrative style keeps the reader enthralled throughout. He strikes a delicate balance between providing an intimate insight into Gibbon's personal life while also offering a comprehensive analysis of his intellectual achievements. Furthermore, Morison's ability to distill complex historical events and concepts into digestible portions is commendable, making this biography an excellent resource for anyone interested in history or the Enlightenment period.

In addition to illuminating Gibbon's life and works, Morison also offers critical evaluations of the controversies surrounding Gibbon's infamous chapter on Christianity in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. By examining the reception and response to Gibbon's criticism of organized religion, Morison prompts readers to reflect on the enduring influence and relevance of Gibbon's scholarship.

However, this biography does have a few limitations. Some readers may find that Morison's detailed exploration of the historical context occasionally detracts from the central focus on Gibbon himself. Additionally, at times, Morison's admiration for Gibbon comes through a bit too strongly, which may sway readers' perceptions, potentially obscuring a more critical analysis of Gibbon's persona.

In conclusion, Gibbon by James Cotter Morison is an engrossing and comprehensive biography that skillfully navigates the life and works of one of history's most influential historians. Morison's command over the subject matter, coupled with his engaging narrative style, facilitates a deeper understanding of Gibbon's contribution to the field of historical scholarship. This biography serves as a valuable resource for history enthusiasts, scholars, and anyone intrigued by the life and times of Edward Gibbon.

First Page:

English Men of Letters

Edited by John Morley

GIBBON

by

JAMES COTTER MORISON, M.A. Lincoln College, Oxford

London: MacMillan and Co. 1878.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I.

GIBBON'S EARLY LIFE UP TO THE TIME OF HIS LEAVING OXFORD

CHAPTER II.

AT LAUSANNE

CHAPTER III.

IN THE MILITIA

CHAPTER IV.

THE ITALIAN JOURNEY

CHAPTER V.

LITERARY SCHEMES. THE HISTORY OF SWITZERLAND. DISSERTATION ON THE SIXTH ÆNEID. FATHER'S DEATH. SETTLEMENT IN LONDON

CHAPTER VI.

LIFE IN LONDON. PARLIAMENT. THE BOARD OF TRADE. THE DECLINE AND FALL. MIGRATION TO LAUSANNE

CHAPTER VII.

THE FIRST THREE VOLUMES OF THE DECLINE AND FALL

CHAPTER VIII.

THE LAST TEN TEARS OF HIS LIFE AT LAUSANNE

CHAPTER IX.

THE LAST THREE VOLUMES OF THE DECLINE AND FALL

CHAPTER X.

LAST ILLNESS. DEATH. CONCLUSION

GIBBON

CHAPTER I.

GIBBON'S EARLY LIFE UP TO THE TIME OF HIS LEAVING OXFORD.

Edward Gibbon[1] was born at Putney, near London, on 27th April in the year 1737. After the reformation of the calendar his birthday became the 8th of May. He was the eldest of a family of seven children; but his five brothers and only sister all died in early infancy, and he could remember in after life his sister alone, whom he also regretted.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: Gibbon's Memoirs and Letters are of such easy access that I have not deemed it necessary to encumber these pages with references to them... Continue reading book >>




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