Religious Scepticism

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277 pages, abbreviations, notes, Key Issues

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Religious Scepticism

Contemporary Responses to Gibbon

Womersley, David, editor

On the publication of the first volume of The Decline and Fall in 1776, there arose a controversy that rapidly became broader than a dispute about an individual writer. Gibbon replied to his critics in the rhetorically brilliant Vindication in 1779, and then withdrew from the fray. But the debate continued long after that. Gibbon’s adversaries were more substantial figures than he was willing to concede, and it is Gibbon’s account of the dispute that has for the most part conditioned the work of later commentators. This comprehensive selection from the writings of Gibbon’s adversaries allows the reader to judge the critics for themselves, and so enter into one of the most important literary disputes of the eighteenth century.