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Barlow, Joel

Entry updated 3 June 2020. Tagged: Author.

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(1754-1812) US diplomat and author, mostly abroad, in France and the UK and elsewhere, from 1788. He is of sf interest for his book-length patriotic poem (see Poetry), The Vision of Columbus (1787; exp vt The Columbiad 1807), the first version of this narrative being a Christian, conservative, nationalistic attempt to create an American Myth of Origin [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. Between the publication of the two versions, Barlow became a supporter of the government that took power in France after the Revolution in 1789, and some years later shared the translation of (at least in part) one of the English renderings of Les Ruines, ou méditation sur les révolutions des empires (1791; his trans anon as A New Translation of Volney's Ruins; Or, Meditations on the Revolution of Empires 1802) by M Volney [who see for comments on the possible involvement of Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) in this translation]. In its revised form as The Columbiad, Barlow's heavily rewritten epic argues for secular, scientifically advanced, republican governance, the poem climaxing in a Near Future council held in Mesopotamia, where the delegates unanimously repudiate all Religions and found a World State. [JC]

Joel Barlow

born Redding, Connecticut: 24 March 1754

died Żanowiec, Austrian Empire [now Poland]: 26 December 1812

works (selected)

  • The Vision of Columbus (Hartford, Connecticut: Hudson and Goodwin, for the Author, 1787) [poem: binding unknown/]
    • The Columbiad (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Conrad, Lucas and Company, 1807) [poem: exp vt of the above: binding unknown/]



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