Tuesday, January 8, 2013

"Libertine" is back

I took the word "libertine" out of my profile, as in "crypto-Catholic libertine" a while ago. Thinking about it, it struck me that it was silly to get worried about the word as the irony ought to be obvious. So it's back.

By the way, it isn't a frequently asked question but every once ina  while someone will ask the origin of the tag. As one of my readers put it:
By the way, what on earth is a crypto-Catholic libertine? Do you "continue in sin, that grace may abound?"
The answer is:
A "crypto-Catholic libertine" is an expression I stole from John Mullan who teaches English at University College London. He used it when discussing James II. Mullan said that even James older brother Charles II who was a crypto=Catholic libertine, which is to say a fairly debased character from Mullan's perspective, was able to see the folly of James behaviour "in matters of religion and sex".

So the sense of the label applied to myself is to suggest that even as bad as I am I might have a moral, religious or literary insight now and then. Or, as the German proverb has it, even a blind chicken finds some seeds.
The article that inspired me to start this blog, How the divine right went wrong, is still on-line in case anyone is interested. It may be a little difficult to connect it to what you find here as a lot of the connections are obscure and only make sense to someone with my precise history. The line that got me going was this description of James II, "Here was a royal rake who became a devout believer." That made me think of myself. I'm no historian but James II has always struck me as a decent guy (by the standards of his time) who tried to do the right thing as he saw it and it is no fault of his that he ran afoul of a bunch of Catholic-hating fanatics.

No comments:

Post a Comment