John Aubrey (1626-1697) was the Bystander of his age, a hanger-on and hanger-out at great houses, a country gentleman of lively intellectual curiosity and unsteady character who left not a book to history but a random, sprawling collection of notes, anecdotes, scribbles and morsels of gossip that have been looted and quoted by scholars ever since. So, alongside prostitutes, soldiers, impostors and scholars stand, fully in the round of their humanity, such historical figures as Sir Walter Raleigh, Shakespeare, Wolsey, Sidney, Sir Thomas Moore and Milton. These men and women flawed, vain, ambitious, vulnerable are more alive here than in any formal history; these giants of an age are brought to a human scale, making it possible for the modern reader to feel, in the words of Edmund Wilson who contributes a foreword, what it must have been like to live then, to find oneself a part of an England that was venturesome, unsettled and eager, that was opening new horizons.
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A series of pen sketches of eminent people of the 17th century.Review:
"I love John Aubrey's Brief Lives because they are funny - full of gaps, anecdotes and profundities all mixed up, as lives are" (Rosemary Hill Guardian)
"I was hooked. Rapier-sharp, elegantly phrased, and without a dull or wasted word" (Christina Hardyment Independent)
"You can almost smell and taste 17th-century England" (Tim Flannery Guardian)
"These aren’t po-faced accounts: the joy of Brief Lives is its irreverence... [Aubrey] never kept a diary or account of his days and so the biographer Ruth Scurr, who has written the introduction to this new edition, wrote one for him. John Aubrey: My Own Life was published last year; read the books side-by-side" ( The Times)
"These vivid and entertaining sketches justify Ruth Scurr's claim that Aubrey was "one of the finest English prose-writers there has ever been"" ( Scotsman)
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Book Description Penguin Classics, 1982. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0140430792
Book Description Penguin Classics, 1982. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110140430792