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The Fringes of Belief
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The Fringes of Belief: English Literature, Ancient Heresy, and the Politics of Freethinking, 1660-1760

Sarah Ellenzweig


This book is the first literary study of freethinking and religious skepticism in the English Enlightenment. The book aims to redress this scholarly lacuna, arguing that a literature of English freethinking has been overlooked because it unexpectedly supported aspects of institutional religion. Analyzing works by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, Aphra Behn, Jonathan Swift, and Alexander Pope, it foregrounds a strand of the English freethinking tradition that was suspicious of revealed religion yet often strongly opposed to the open denigration of Anglican Christianity and its laws. By exposing ... More

Keywords: freethinking, Enlightenment, religion, belief, doubt, heresy, modernity, John Wilmot, Aphra Behn, Jonathan Swift

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2008 Print ISBN-13: 9780804758772
Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013 DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804758772.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Sarah Ellenzweig, author