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Passion's Triumph over ReasonA History of the Moral Imagination from Spenser to Rochester$
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Christopher Tilmouth

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199212378

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199212378.001.0001

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The Restoration Ethos of Libertinism

The Restoration Ethos of Libertinism

(p.257) 7 The Restoration Ethos of Libertinism
Passion's Triumph over Reason

Christopher Tilmouth (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins by surveying various traditions which fed into Restoration libertinism, namely, Hobbism, the libertine writings of an earlier generation of cavaliers, the libertinage of France's libertins érudits, and the Epicureanism of the mid-17th-century Epicurean revival. These disparate threads provided a network of ideas amenable to the self-image of those Royalists who formed the so-called ‘court wits’ coterie in 1660s England. The origins of that self-image are also explained by examining the politics of libertinism, especially the experience of alienation suffered by Buckingham's circle both during the Interregnum and after the Restoration (when Clarendon dominated government). The argument is made that the court wits generated Restoration libertinism as a vehicle for expressing resentment towards a society which did not accord them a sufficient public role. The chapter concludes by examining how the culture of manners prevalent in this period gave formal expression to the libertine appetite for aggressive self-assertion.

Keywords:   Restoration libertinism, Hobbism, cavaliers, libertins érudits, Epicurean revival, politics of libertinism, Buckingham, culture of manners

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