John Selden: Measures of the Holy Commonwealth in Seventeenth-Century England

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9780802087768: John Selden: Measures of the Holy Commonwealth in Seventeenth-Century England
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John Selden: Measures of the Holy Commonwealth in Seventeenth-Century England is the first text in over a century to examine the whole of Selden's works and thought. Reid Barbour brings a new perspective to Selden studies by stressing Selden's strong commitment to a 'religious society,' by taking a closer and more sustained look at his poetic interests, and by systematically examining his Latin publications (particularly those using Jewish sources).

Offering critical close readings of Selden's oeuvre, Barbour posits that the overriding aim of Selden's career was to bolster religious society in the face of its imminent demise. He argues that Selden's scholarly career was committed to resolving an essentially religious question about how best to establish the holy commonwealth in both lawfulness and spiritual abundance.

Perhaps the greatest strength of Barbour's analysis emerges from his overall interpretation of Selden's corpus within the context of what the author calls a "religious society"; this approach emphasizes the religious commitments of Selden and subverts earlier readings of him as a cynical, skeptical, secular thinker who attacked, rather than upheld, a Judeo-Christian model of society. Engaging in style and substantive in analysis, Barbour's John Selden will add considerably to the limited body of work on this important seventeenth-century savant.

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From the Inside Flap:

"...an innovative work that strives to see John Selden as a whole...Many historians will take issue with the author's themes, but they are themes that deserve to be examined in the full light of day. This is a controversial work, but one that contributes to academic scholarship on a number of topics that will interest students of history, literature, politics, science, and philosophy."

"[The text]...provides many excellent close readings of Selden's books, including a sustained analysis of the often epigrammatic statements of the Table Talk within the contexts of his other works. Indeed, these and many of the other close readings of Selden's works provided by Barbour are excellent. The discussion of Analecton...is excellent, indeed, the longest and best available."

About the Author:

Reid Barbour teaches courses in seventeenth-century literature and intellectual history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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