Memoirs of My Life
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Memoirs of My Life

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  54 ratings  ·  10 reviews
Edward Gibbon was one of the world's greatest historians and a towering figure of his age. When he died in 1794 he left behind the unfinished drafts of his Memoirs, which were posthumously edited by his friend Lord Sheffield, and remain an astonishing portrait of a rich, full life. Recounting Gibbon's sickly childhood in London, his disappointment with an Oxford steeped in...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 3rd 1984 by Penguin Classics (first published 1796)
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Re-reading this has primed me for some more Austen. For six months Persuasion has been a brick in my bedside to-read tower, and at no point of that time have I found myself in the mood to read the novel. I’m in the mood now. In the lofty ironic style with which he traced the dissipation of Roman dynasties and the dispersion of Roman power, Gibbon recounts the household anxieties – and squalors and disasters – of three generations of precarious English gentry. There’s a general background of merc...more
Justin Evans
What's not to love about a man who writes this well, even when he's not really trying, and gets more upset about intellectual arguments than he does about a faltering love life? Nothing not to love. Gibbon's life wasn't particularly eventful, but this prose would drag me through even a contemporary, 'trauma' filled memoir. Along the way he takes moderate shots at the university system, olde time religione, and the French. A very pleasant way to spend a few hours, in short. Particularly worth rea...more
Nicholas Whyte
Edward Gibbon's short and entertaining autobiography, telling the story of his life and of how he wrote the Decline and Fall. The two chapters in which Gibbon describes the completion, publication and reception of the Decline and Fall ought to be essential reading for anyone planning a writing career. In particular, his reflections on completing the twenty-year project are poignant:

'It was on the night of the 27th of June 1787, between the hours of eleven and twelve, that I wrote the last line o...more
The last third or so of this book was just wonderful. The first two thirds are taken up with family history and correcting the record about Gibbon's dalliance with Roman Catholicism. I found myself reading a few pages and then finding other things to do. But then he gets to his Roman history, backbenching in Parliament, and retirement to Lausanne, and the prose (which had been a delight throughout) finally had a reason for being.

This is not a book of great wisdom or even deep insight (into ones...more
Richard Epstein
Most famous line? Ordered by his father to abandon his One True Love, Gibbon says, "I sighed as a lover, I obeyed as a son." The World's Greatest Historian was not altogether like you and me. Of course that may help explain why we are not the World's Greatest Historians.
As Gibbon related, "a sincere and simple narrative of my own life may amuse some of my leisure hours, but it will subject me, and perhaps with justice, to the imputation of vanity." But far from vanity, Gibbon, engages his readers in what only can be described as a hand to mouth life until after his "History of the Decline..." which won him both fame and fortune. It becomes clear what the world would be like if FDR had not provided Social Security, and how Gibbon was not able to beget children d...more
This is a fine autobiography, and probably of some interest if you're reading Decline and Fall, since it sheds some interesting light on Gibbon's intellectual development and unique life story and how he came to write his masterpiece.
Remarkable person who was almost entirely self educated. Great insights into how to educate yourself in the Roman and Greek classics and how intellectuals in the neoclassical era interacted and developed.
Read this in college in a seminar on the history of how history has been studied and historiography. Of all the classes I took in college, this was one of the best. I still have a copy.
Jul 19, 2010 John added it
This guy is a genius for sure. Really enjoyed reading this.
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Edward Gibbon (8 May 1737 – 16 January 1794) was an English historian and Member of Parliament. His most important work, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788. The Decline and Fall is known for the quality and irony of its prose, its use of primary sources, and its open criticism of organised religion.

Gibbon returned to England...more
More about Edward Gibbon...
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Volume I The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Volume III The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 1-3: Volumes 1, 2, 3 The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Volume II

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