Nick Hern Books, Paperback, 15 December, 1994
Author: Stephen Jeffreys
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I loved this book and could picture Johnny Depp playing John Wilmot the Earl of Rochester as i read it.The film will be out in august.When i picked the book up i could not put it down untill i got to the end.Very good book, thank you.
Pornographer or Philosopher?
The Libertine is an extraordinarily rich and pungent play, you can almost smell the corruption and dissipation of Restoration London. Whilst at times somewhat raunchy in it's depiction of the London brothels, theatres and royal court, the core of the piece is the battle in the soul of John Wilmott, Earl of Rochester. He is a sensitive poet and at the same time an accomplished pornographer, he is a republican, yet supports the King, he truly loves his wife, and his mistress. His is truly a tortured soul, he suffers from the worst of maladies - an incisive intelligence which makes him unable to believe in anything that cannot be proven. Thus he is an atheist and a true product of his age, but ironically the new age of enlightenment, the advances in science, the arts, philosophy and politics only serve to compound his inner turmoil. His outward brilliance and rip roaring lifestyle conceals a deep melancholy and his irrational and reckless behaviour becomes increasingly dangerous, he seems to be drawn, against his will, yet driven by it, to inevitable self destruction.
The play is a wonderful depiction of the Restoration era, it has wit, vulgarity, romance and tragedy woven into an evocative and engaging tapestry full of colour, texture and contrast.
The characters are vivid, the language rich and pithy and the action gallops apace, drawing us inexorably into the vortex of Rochester's anarchic tilt at the windmills of life.