Gibbon spent some five years in Switzerland, becoming thoroughly fluent in the French language to the extent that it displaced English as the language in which he thought. His father's intention that Gibbon be reconciled to Protestantism was fulfilled by Christmas of During these years Gibbon studied Greek, Latin, Logic, and Mathematics; he met Voltaire in and in that same year fell in love with Suzanne Curchot, a daughter of a materially poor minister of religion.
His father, however, objected to the match and Gibbon wrote "Without his consent I was destitute and helpless. I sighed as a lover, I obeyed as a son. His father had encouraged this publication hoping that it would bring Gibbon to public notice but it seemed to have more impact in continental circles than in England - it was not translated into English until when it appeared as an "Essay on the Study of Literature.
By this time Gibbon had determined to devote his life to scholarship and writing. He returned to the continent spending some time in Paris in the circle of d'Alembert and Diderot, then spent about a year in the Lausanne area before traveling to Rome in April of It was of a day in October of that year that Gibbon later wrote "as I sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while barefoot friars were singing vespers in the Temple of Jupiter, the idea of writing the decline and fall of the city first started to my mind.
Gibbon returned to England in June and between other claims on his time, including some alternative literary projects, had not progressed his eventual masterwork much beyond the planning and initial research stages in when difficult circumstances associated with his father's death precipitated further causes of delay. It was only by late that Gibbon's project really seems to have been under way.
The history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire: By Edward Gibbon, Esq; ... [pt.1]
Gibbon records that after a slow and hesitant start, that was complicated by a decision having to be made as to overall tone to be adopted, he proceeded more swiftly and without much in the way of alteration or correction. In Gibbon was invited to join Dr Johnson's Club where he associated with many of the leading figures of London's literary scene.
Johnson's friend and biographer, Boswell, has descibed Gibbon as "an ugly, affected, disgusting fellow" that being said Gibbon did have a reputation for not caring overmuch about cleanliness. The first volume of Decline and Fall was published in February and met with a prompt and considerable acclaim. Sales were such that this volume actually went into three editions.
While reading a history of this size and scope would likely prove an immense challenge to any narrator, Timson handles his duties with great aplomb. His narration is crisp, clear, and commanding.
His tone is both intellectual and full of authority, and he modifies his pacing and annunciation to highlight points of particular importance or interest. When reading footnotes to the text, Timson slightly alters his tone to signal to readers the transition to and from these ancillary sections. This masterful performance of a classic work is a must listen for anyone who loves history. He fully uses the rare opportunities for voice characterisation or acting — in the reading of letters, for instance — but without overdoing, keeping the expression appropriate for a serious history.
Edward Gibbon historian Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire biography
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