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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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
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