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Gott, Samuel

Entry updated 12 February 2021. Tagged: Author.

(1614-1671) UK parliamentarian and author. Son of an ironmonger, educated at Cambridge and the Inns of Court, Gott was a Presbyterian and a member of the circle around educational reformer Samuel Hartlib. In 1645 he was elected to parliament for Winchelsea, but was excluded in Pride's Purge of 1648. In the same year he published a Utopia, Nova Solymæ Libri Sex (1648 2vols; trans Walter Begley as The Ideal City, or Jerusalem Regained: An Anonymous Romance Written in the Time of Charles I: Now First Drawn from Obscurity and Attributed to the Illustrious John Milton 1902 2vols), the first substantial work of fiction published in Britain to be set in the future. (The text was attributed to Gott as early as 1658; Begley's attribution to Milton was highly questionable in 1902, and entirely dismissed in 1910.)

Nova Solyma is a long romance that features piracy and bandits, kidnappings, cross-dressing, mistaken Identity, duels, and a love story in which the two heroes seem to fall for the same girl, until right at the end when it is revealed that they are twin sisters, but it is set fifty years in the future and at the heart of the story is a year spent by the two English heroes in a version of Jerusalem, a symmetrical City on a mountaintop here called Nova Solyma, that has been transformed into a Utopia by the recognition by the Jews of the true messiah; only those Jews who share this recognition are allowed within the walls. This sets the work clearly in the tradition of the millennarian writings of the time, which proclaimed the conversion of the Jews as one of the signs of the second coming of Christ. Gott would go on to write two other books which advocated Christianity as the only source of true happiness, neither of which have utopian or science-fictional elements: An Essay of the True Happiness of Man (1650) and The Divine History of the Genesis of the World (1670). Gott returned to parliament when the Long Parliament was recalled in 1659. [PKi]

Samuel Gott

born London: 20 January 1614

died Battle, Sussex: 18 November 1671


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