God, Gulliver, and Genocide: Barbarism and the European Imagination, 1492-1945

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9780198184256: God, Gulliver, and Genocide: Barbarism and the European Imagination, 1492-1945

We are obsessed with "barbarians." They are the "not us," who don't speak our language, or "any language," whom we despise, fear, invade and kill; for whom we feel compassion, or admiration, and an intense sexual interest; whose innocence or vigor we aspire to, and who have an extraordinary influence on the comportment, and even modes of dress, of our civilized metropolitan lives; whom we often outdo in the barbarism we impute to them; and whose suspected resemblance to us haunts our introspections and imaginings. This book looks afresh at how we have confronted the idea of "barbarism," in ourselves and others, from the conquest of the Americas to the Nazi Holocaust, through the voices of many writers, including Montaigne, Swift and Shaw.

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About the Author:

Claude Rawson is Maynard Mack Professor of English, Yale University. His works include Henry Fielding and the Augustan Ideal Under Stress; Gulliver and the Gentle Reader: Studies in Swift and Our Time; Order from Confusion Sprung: Studies in Eighteenth-Century Literature from Swift to Cowper; The Collected Poems of Thomas Parnell, with F. P. Lock; Satire and Sentiment 1660-1830; and Cambridge History of Literary Criticism: Volume 4: The Eighteenth Century, with H. B. Nisbet.


"Rawson's excellent book analyses 'the spectrum of aggressions' that exists between such figurative use of the language of extermination and its actual fulfillment in historical genocides over the last six centuries."--The Guardian"

"[An] erudite, passionate book...learned, wide-ranging and acute.... [Rawson is] one of the finest 18th-century specialists, who...is also a critic of striking flair and delicacy."--Terry Eagleton, London Review of Books

"Never a scholar to be bound by conventions of periodization...Rawson has written a book of major importance for genres ranging from Renaissance encounter literature to modern Holocaust fiction. But his greatest gift has always been for torpedoing the prevailing assumptions of eighteenth-century studies, and in this bold new account of Swift, and the implications arising for other writers, he has done it, explosively, again."--The Times Literary Supplement

"[Rawson's] important new book...might at first blush seem to have certain similarity to...fashionable criticisms of Western values and actions, but it could not be more different from them in its freedom from ideological agendas, its refusal to cook the evidence, its ability to see moral nuance, and its steady sense of the complexity of historical causation. Rawson has long been one of our most illuminating authorities on eighteenth-century English satire and on Swift in particular; but in his new book he casts a much wider net, exhibiting the same meticulous erudition in his treatment of Montaigne and Wilde and Shaw as he does in his discussion of the English Augustan writers."--The New Republic

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