We are obsessed with 'barbarians'. They are the 'not us', who don't speak our language, or 'any language', whom we depise, fear, invade and kill; for whom we feel compassion, or admiration, and an intense sexual interest; whose innocence or vigour we aspire to, and who have an extraordinary influence on the comportment, and even modes of dress, of our civilised metropolitan lives; whom we often outdo in the barbarism we impute to them; and whose suspected resemblance to us haunts our introspections and imaginings. They come in two overlapping categories, ethnic others and home-grown pariahs: conquered infidels and savages, the Irish, the poor, the Jews. This book looks afresh at how we have confronted the idea of 'barbarism', in ourselves and others, from 1492 to 1945, through the voices of many writers, chiefly Montaigne, Swift and, to a lesser extent, Shaw.
`[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
Number Of Pages: 420
Published: 1st June 2001
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.5 x 14.6 x 2.6
Weight (kg): 0.63