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'Orientalist Jones': Sir William Jones, Poet, Lawyer, and Linguist, 1746-1794 Hardcover – 22 Sep 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 410 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (22 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199532001
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199532001
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 3.8 x 16.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 844,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


All in all, this is an excellent biography of an extraordinary eighteenth-century intellectual ... the author has succeeded in giving a very lively portrait of a man with a fascinating personality, and the book offers the right balance between detailed and accurate factual information, a sensitive psychological interpretation of William Jones the man, and a clear exposition of the importance of his contribution to linguistics and Orientalism. (Pierre Dubois, Graat)

... intelligent and stimulating ... This is a splendid book - in the richness of its research and the depth of its empathy, in the subtle delineation of William Jones's character and the diligent unravelling of a multi-faceted subject. (David Arnold, Times Literary Supplement)

Michael Franklin has written the definitive biography of this most polymathic of men, moving with ease between the many facets of his remarkable mind. (James Mather, The Spectator)

[A] readable and thorough biography...of one of the greatest polymaths in history (Andrew Robinson, The Independent)

Michael Franklin has absorbed a lot of the gravitas and scholarly attention to detail of his chosen subject. (Robert Irwin, Literary Review)

well worth reading (John Brockington, Translation and Literature)

dynamic and definitive biography ... Franklin's portrait of Jones as a radical, republican mediator of hitherto disparate cultures is long overdue (Kurt A. Johnson, The Review of English Studies)

Franklin's new biography of Jones goes much further than previous biographies ... in relating his career and his intellectual ambitions to the social and political circumstances of his time. [It] brings out many new biographical and critical insights into Jones's work and career (William Crawley, Asian Affairs)

[an] admirable and engrossing biography. (The India Site)

Michael Franklin has written an engaging, sympathetic, and definitive new scholarly biography of the first great British orientalist, Sir William Jones ... an impressive achievement (Peter J. Kitson, Wordsworth Circle)

About the Author

Michael J. Franklin is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at Swansea University. His main current area of interest is the study of colonial representations of India and their various interfaces with Romanticism, and he has published widely on this subject and on the work of Sir William Jones, including the critical biography Sir William Jones (1995), and (as editor)Sir William Jones: Selected Poetical and Prose Works (1995), Representing India: Indian Culture and Imperial Control (2000), and The European Discovery of India: Key Indological Sources of Romanticism (2001). His most recent books are an edited collection of essays, Romantic Representations of British India (2006), and a scholarly edition of Phebe Gibbes, Hartly House, Calcutta (2007), also published by Oxford University Press.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ulysses 6 on 10 Jan. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
A fantastic biography of an amazing polymath, Franklin has written the definitive bio of a great Enlightenment thinker, radical, poet and cultural mediator. Franklin emphasizes Jones' multicultural and pluralistic tendencies in representing the wonders of Hindu culture and literature to a British public who hitherto considered it infidel and idolatrous. Moreover, he lays a persuasive argument to counter the years of Post colonial haranguing Jones has received since Said, and paint a picture of man who took his radical polemic to India. A must read for those interested in the Enlightenment, Romanticism, post colonialism, Hinduism, and the history of cultural interaction between Britain and India.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
It's probably a very good book. At that price I'll never know 30 July 2015
By Teadrinker - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I'll give it 5 stars just to get the rating up. I totally agree. It's probably a very good book. At that price I'll never know.

Update: I got the book from interlibrary loan and it is very good. The author has an excellent writing style. Deals with super-complex topics easily.
10 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Review of a Book Unread 7 Mar. 2013
By Peter Just - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I hope I will be forgiven for submitting a review of a book a haven't read, but the substance of this "review" is to complain about why I haven't read it. Of all the great polymaths of the 18th century, Sir William Jones must certainly number among the most fascinating and the most admirable. A linguistic prodigy of modest social origins, Jones was educated at Oxford and rose to be entrusted with the creation of the colonial judicial system of Bengal. Amazingly for an Englishman of his times, Jones thought to ask (Hindu) Bengalis about the sources of their legal traditions. He ended up learning Sanskrit and translating the Laws of Manu into English, essentially founding the western discipline of Indology. Moreover, Jones acutely observed the similarities in vocabulary and grammar among Sanskrit, Persian, Gothic and Celtic languages, brilliantly coming to the conclusion that they must have each evolved from a common ancestor, thereby also founding the discipline of historical linguistics.

I would love to read a biography of this fascinating man. The good news is that Michael Franklin appears to have written one and seems to be very well qualified to do it. The bad news is that Oxford University Press offers no paperback edition and wants $65 for the hardcover edition. More absurdly, they think we ought to be willing to pay $40 for the ebook. I, for one, refuse to be gouged in this way and I note that from the book's sales ranking of 1,723,108 pretty much everyone else in the world does, too. How foolish of OUP! What a disservice they do to Michael Franklin, to the readers of the world, and to poor, old Sir William Jones!
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