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William Godwin (1756–1836) was one of the first exponents of utilitarianism and the first modern proponent of anarchism. He was not only a radical philosopher but a pioneer in libertarian education, a founder of communist economics, and an acute and powerful novelist whose literary family included his partner, pioneering feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, and his daughter Mary Godwin (later Mary Shelley), who would go on to write Frankenstein and marry the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

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Romantic Rationalist: A William Godwin Reader
Author: William Godwin • Editor: Peter Marshall • Foreword: John P. Clark
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-62963-228-5
Published: 02/2017
Format: Paperback
Size: 9x6
Page count: 192
Subjects: Political Theory/Anarchism
$17.95

William Godwin (1756–1836) was one of the first exponents of utilitarianism and the first modern proponent of anarchism. He was not only a radical philosopher but a pioneer in libertarian education, a founder of communist economics, and an acute and powerful novelist whose literary family included his partner, pioneering feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, and his daughter Mary Godwin (later Mary Shelley), who would go on to write Frankenstein and marry the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

His long life straddled two centuries. Not only did he live at the center of radical and intellectual London during the French Revolution, he also commented on some of the most significant changes in modern history. Shaped by the Enlightenment, he became a key figure in English Romanticism.

This work offers for the first time a handy collection of Godwin’s key writings in a clear and concise form, together with an assessment of his influence, a biographical sketch, and an analysis of his contribution to anarchist theory and practice. The selections are taken from all of Godwin’s writings including his groundbreaking work during the French Revolution, An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, and arranged by editor Peter Marshall to give a coherent account of his thought for the general reader.

Godwin’s work will be of interest to all those who believe that rationality, truth, happiness, individuality, equality, and freedom are central concerns of human enquiry and endeavor.

Praise:

“Peter Marshall has produced the most useful modern account of Godwin’s life and now the most useful modern anthology of his writings. Marshall’s selection is sensible and valuable, bringing out the important points. . . . His introduction is a good summary of Godwin’s life and work. . . . Marshall is right to see him as ‘the most profound exponent of philosophical anarchism.’”
—Nicolas Walter, New Statesman

“A handsome and handy little book, excavating nuggets of Godwinian wisdom from the whole range of his writings.”
—Colin Ward, Times Educational Supplement

“An anarchist classic . . . with a valuable sketch of Godwin’s life and an interpretation of his work. Much of what Godwin says is obvious common sense.”
—Henry Geiger, Manas Journal

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Romantic Rationalist: A William Godwin Reader