The Enlightenments of Edward Gibbon, 1737–1764
'Barbarism and Religion' – Edward Gibbon's own phrase – is the title of a sequence of works by John Pocock designed to situate Gibbon, and his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, in a series of contexts in the history of eighteenth-century Europe. This is a major intervention from one of the world's leading historians of ideas, challenging the notion of any one 'Enlightenment' and positing instead a plurality of enlightenments, of which the English was one. Professor Pocock argues that the English Enlightenmentof which Gibbon was part was an ecclesiastical as well as a secular phenomenon, one of several Protestant Enlightenments distinct from that of the Parisian philosophes, and an aspect of the reconstitution of Europe after the wars against Louis XIV.
In this first volume in the sequence, 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.
Born in London and brought up in Christchurch, New Zealand, J. G. A. POCOCK was educated at the Universities of Canterbury and Cambridge, and is now Harry C. Black Emeritus Professor of History at the Johns Hopkins University. His many seminal works on intellectual history include The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law (1957, second edition 1987), Politics, Language and Time (1971), The Machiavellian Moment (1975), and Virtue, Commerce and History (1985). He has also edited The Political Works of James Harrington (1977) and Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France (1987), as well as the collaborative study The Varieties of British Political Thought (1995). A Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Historical Society, Professor Pocock is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Philosophical Society.