John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester

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Germaine Greer

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A scrupulous account of the career of the poet John Wilmot second Earl of Rochester (1647-80) without the usual accretion of mis-attribution and salacious or moralising anecdote.

Description: Though he wrote little, and sometimes carelessly, Rochester, as the most original talent among the poets of the Restoration, deserves serious study. His poetry is both highly literary, often based on classical forms and suffused with echoes of Ovid and Horace, and startlingly individual. Rochester uses colloquial speech to dramatise complex reactions to immediate situations, adopting an astonishing range of distinctive personae. This account of his work strives conscientiously to place it in its socio-political context and to describe the way the poet and his work were co-opted after his premature death to serve contrasting political agendas. Serious critical attention is given to an indubitably authentic work, Rochester's adaptation of Fletcher's tragedy, Valentinian. In her stimulating, reliable account of the achievement of an influential poet, Dr Greer shows Rochester to be far more interesting than the pasteboard rake of pop-historical cliché.


Author: Greer, Germaine

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