Book review: Romantic Rationalist — A William Godwin Reader

Romantic Rationalist: A William Godwin Reader

Edited by Peter Marshall
ISBN: 978-1-62963-228-5
PP: 192
Publisher: PM Press, 2017
£15.99

If interested in the roots of modern anarchism, you’ll at least know William Godwin’s name. The fellow was quite prolific in writing, so he has a number of works to sort through. Hence the true benefit of this gorgeous volume: rather than sitting down with a volume or two, this reader empowers you to identify key topics, key texts, and then seek out the originals, should you choose, for more in-depth writings and discourses.

As it sits, the Romantic Rationalist is incredibly well edited. First, it’s well organised. Second, the editing is smooth and non-disruptive — it’s easy to move from one section to the next. Third, the sources annotations are clear and easy to follow. Fourth, the selections are of excellent quality.

While most PM Press books are well made and presented in terms of books-as-artifacts, this volume stands out. The striking cover, the paper quality and type, and the size of the volume makes it perfect as a reader. Side margins are large enough to make notes while not so large you feel as if they were used just to make the book longer. This book just feels and reads like a book that was made, framed, and presented with love.

So when reading modern roots of such an important, vibrant, and powerful tradition as anarchism, it’s refreshing to see so much care involved on so many levels.

Finally, the volume passes the most important test of any reader: can you sit down, crack it open to any section, and start reading comfortably. Yes. Most definitely.

Worth the money, and definitely worth reading and re-reading.

Luther Blissett

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