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Blazing Star: The Life and Times of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester by [Larman, Alexander]
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Blazing Star: The Life and Times of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester Kindle Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Product Description

Review

'Insightful and illuminating ... engagingly partisan and elegantly informative' The Times.

'An informative and enlightening biography' The Sunday Times.

'This racy tale is told in scholarly but lively detail by Alex Larman in a beautifully written first book' Daily Express.

'The most comprehensive portrait of Rochester yet' Daily Mail.

'Very good, assiduously researched and well written' Scotland on Sunday.

'Challenges the accepted wisdom that has prevailed for centuries that Wilmot was a dastardly blighter in his conduct and a pornographer in his poetry, painting instead a portrait of one of English literature's brightest lights who died, as bright lights do, far too young' Good Book Guide.

About the Author

Alex Larman is a freelance journalist who has written for the TLS, the Guardian, and the New Statesman, as well as the Spectator and the Observer. He has also written a radio play.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 9895 KB
  • Print Length: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Head of Zeus (3 July 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00KFDQVI2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #89,678 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent work. For anyone with even the slightest interest in the Earl of Rochester or his poetry it is a stand-out biography – meticulous without being dry, detailed but never losing sight of the wider context. The author’s plain affection for his subject does not descend into apologia or sentiment, though he retains an obvious warmth and empathy throughout that makes one thrill to Wilmot the man as well as Rochester the poet.

Such biographies must always balance the literary and the historical; what makes Blazing Star so readable is that Larman wears his scholarship in the former lightly – and resists the urge to beat the reader over the head with endless practical criticism – whilst bringing a mordant wit and narrative zip to the latter that allows you to disappear to Restoration England whilst on the 18.50 from Waterloo to Reading.

If the book has a minor fault it is that the ambitious scope of taking on the origins, politics (both geo- and gender), theology, culture, sexual and social mores, literature and drama, versification, fashions, &c, mean that one does occasionally feel the need for some companion texts; so many topics are touched on or alluded to that one feels could easily have become a chapter in themselves. But then the alternative would have been a series of, say, ten books, which might have been unsustainable.

I would recommend this without hesitation to almost anyone, with the possible exceptions of easily-shocked maiden aunts, staunch puritans or devotees of John Dryden.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am baffled by the complaint reviews accusing this of being about poetry and not about the Restoration era itself!? This is a book on JOHN WILMOT, his life, his poetry- him. This is not a book on the restoration period in general!
For people such as myself who have been fascinated with the Earl and his poetry since I was 15, this is hugely informative and interesting. This is by far the most informative book into the mind, wit and behaviour of a pure genius. With insight into some of his greatest poems like a Satire Against Reason and Mankind. My family has historians and English literature experts who all agree that this book is in comparison to many others is brilliant.
I also see reviews on here claiming the Earl was incapable of love?! Where people get this sort of insight from I do not know? If you read this book along with Rochester's personal letters you will see that he was more than capable of real love and feelings other than sexual, as was he capable of many great poems and letter's that did not revolve around bawdy lewd thoughts. This book blew me away in places, as it delved into the sheer brilliance and sublime thoughts hidden within some paragraphs of his poetry. Some paragraphs that appear to be sexual to most who read them, but are in fact nothing of the sort, areas of word play. I have been reading his poetry, letters and studying The Earl for almost 15 years now and this book for REAL fans is certainly a treat and a delight to read! I am not quite finished yet, I have 79 pages to go and have been moved to tears in some parts.
This is a MUST read for Earl of Rochester fans only.
If you are a featherweight fan of just the movie- The Libertine then this is not for you.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For anyone interested in life at the court of charles the second this book will delight and scandalizeyou in equal measure. Having come across Rochester before I knew what to expect and this book did not disappoint. Love the extra feature of his works at the end.
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Format: Hardcover
An extremely comprehensive and very readable biography which should appeal to those interested in the social history of the period, the poetry of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, as well as the life and times of the Earl and Charles II. Larman covers all aspects of his life in detail and must have spent a great deal of time in background research. His biography is well-balanced and very fair to the Earl, who some in the past have considered to be only a debauched libertine who wrote dirty couplets. This biography brings out some of the beauty in Rochester's verse and it is clear that Larman has appreciated the significance of the poems.

It is a handsomely produced book having a good page layout, a selection of relevant illustrations and an excellent bibliography. My only (minor) criticism is that we are told many times that Rochester was suffering from tertiary syphilis - perhaps we didn't need reminding so often.
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Format: Hardcover
“We have a pretty witty king,
Whose word no man relies on;
He never said a foolish thing,
Nor ever did a wise one.”

In any book you read about Stuart England, particularly after the Restoration, you tend to find any mention of John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester as a kind of epitome of the libertine rake, the Stuart cad, the example of the debauched excesses of Stuart England under King Charles II. You might find, in a footnote, some mention of his poetry. But this book proves there was an awful lot more to Rochester than sensual excess or bad behaviour, although there was admittedly a lot of that as well.

Born in 1647, John was the son of Henry Wilmot, created Earl of Rochester by Charles in exile in France in 1652. Wilmot senior had been critical in the successful escape of Charles from England after the debacle that was the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Avoding Cromwell’s forces, Charles, with Wilmot by his side the whole way, had managed to flee to France.

After the Restoration of 1660, England became ‘merry’ again under Charles II. The first Earl of Rochester was dead, his widow had successfully maintained her station under Cromwell, and John was raised to the dignity of the Earl of Rochester. By 1660 he was at university, but he likely already knew his path to success was going to be best served through the Court.

In 1680, Rochester died at the age of thirty-three.
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