John Toland: Ireland's Forgotten Philosopher, Scholar ... and Heretic
by J.N. Duggan
This book examines certain interesting and important aspects of the life and work of John Toland - scholar and philosopher of international renown; prolific writer on important political and religious issues of his day; a radical republican who challeged the divine right of kings; a diplomat whose Account of the Courts of Prussia and Hanover is still quoted by historians of the period; the first person to be called a freethinker (by Bishop Berkeley); the first to advocate full citizenship and equal rights for Jewish people.
These are just some of his notable achievements yet he remains largely unknown in his home country. Toland was born in 1670 and raised on the Inishowen Peninsula in Co. Donegal. He died in London in 1722, the city where he had resided for most of his life, although he was also a frequent visitor to the continent.
In his considerable volume of writings he challenged political and ecclesiastical authority. He is chiefly remembered today for what was in fact his first work, Christianity Not Mysterious (1696) - a book which was denounced in the English and Irish Parliaments and publicly burned in Dublin.
This volume includes the most comprehensive bibliography of John Toland works, his life and times available to date.
According to the author, J.N. Duggan, the book makes no claim to being a ‘Life’ of Toland, "nor is it an exhaustive enquiry into his enormous literary output or extraordinary range of interests. I leave that to others better qualified than me. However, I hope it will serve to introduce all those young Irishmen and women who have never heard of him, to one of their most far-seeing and forward-thinking countrymen. Ní bheidh a leitheid arís ann."
This is a book that will be of interest to Toland's considerable international following, as well as those who are new to the story of an interesting character from a country that has produced more than a few.
- The Manuscript Publisher, July 2012
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