Melton prior Institut


Linton- Life in the Collections

Eliza Lynn Linton:

17) The True History of Joshua Davidson - Christian And Communist.

London 1872 / New York 1916

A late American edition of this literary blockbuster, that went through three editions within three months of publication.

Linton had married the noted novelist Eliza Lynn shortly after the death of his partner Emily Wade. They lived in permanent separation. Eliza Lynn’s “great literary success came with the revelation, that she was the author of Joshua Davidson, an agnostic retelling of the story of Christ, updated into the nineteenth century. Josuah’s character, which has much of Linton in it, caused a furore.” (F.B. Smith) The scheme of the historical Jesus as a transgressor and rebel was a common one among the British radicals with their long Dissenter tradition, especially among those of the Unitarian direction, which departed from Christ’s simple humanity. Eliza Lynn was the first writer who established a secular Jesus as the hero of a novel. He is grasped here as an artisan with egalitarian ideals, who preaches in the slums of London against the evils of capitalism and landlordism. In the proceedings Linton’s fictional alias ends up in the turmoil of the Paris Commune and dies as a martyr in the final bloody abatement. The real Linton had indeed been attendant in a Paris revolution, but decades before, in 1848 as a member of an official Chartist delegation.