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Gibbon and the 'Watchmen of the Holy City'The Historian and his Reputation, 1776-1815$
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David Womersley

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780198187332

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198187332.001.0001

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The ‘Memoirs’: Autobiography in Time of Revolution

The ‘Memoirs’: Autobiography in Time of Revolution

(p.207) 6 The ‘Memoirs’: Autobiography in Time of Revolution
Gibbon and the 'Watchmen of the Holy City'


Oxford University Press

Gibbon's autobiographical project, the six drafts of his Memoirs of My Life, was the instrument on which he eventually settled to attempt the rescue of his reputation in the wake of the French Revolution and the damage it had inflicted. This chapter offers a general account of the successive re-writings of the Memoirs, draws attention to how they differ in character depending on whether Gibbon was envisaging posthumous or non-posthumous publication, relates the sequence of composition and the character of the six drafts to the timetable of events in France, and indicates how Gibbon's literary executor, Lord Sheffield, contrived to obscure Gibbon's intentions for this work not only by publishing a conflated version but also more insidiously by giving misleading indications concerning Gibbon's motives in writing this work.

Keywords:   memoirs, French Revolution, Lord Sheffield, autobiography

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