Rufus King Park
Talking about History - Rufus King's Reading in London: Using the History of Rome to Understand the French Revolution
Saturday, April 26, 2014
4:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
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From 1799-1803, when Rufus King was serving as Minister to Great Britain, he read Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and recorded excerpts from this book and others in two notebooks, known as commonplace books. On first glance these excerpts, or commonplaces, seem random, but every commonplace book has an individualized organization behind it.
In this lecture, David J. Gary, Yale University, shows how an examination of these notebooks allows us to understand King’s fears, anxieties, and challenges as he looked at the world as a statesman and diplomat of the new and weak American nation. Why did King select the material in these commonplace books?
How did he read Gibbon’s masterpiece? Why did he make such an effort to read this book during his busy diplomatic tour? Learn how King’s commonplace books reflect his desire to understand the quickly changing social, political, and cultural landscape wrought by the French Revolution.
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