On Reading Common Sense

Today I recorded part 3 of my Common Sense audiobook for YouTube. This one was nearly 50 minutes long 😮 so it will be a few days yet before I have actually edited and uploaded it.

I’m finding it very interesting thus far. Paine knew his audience and his format, and how to make his point several different ways (pathos, ethos, and logos—whew, I remember something from English 101).

Much of his argument for independence rests on religious reasons, which is rather ironic considering he was not particularly religious himself, at least not as much as you’d expect from the anonymous writer of this sermonesque pamphlet. For modern readers, this meta knowledge offers some additional insight on his writing technique, not to mention a few chuckles (and facepalms).

Overall, I have some reservations about many of Paine’s arguments, but still, it brings me a nostalgia for writers of the past—who even writes like this anymore? I’m also newly interested in the English history he references in his railing against the monarchy.

It’s worth noting Paine had only come to America in 1774, after experiencing serious financial and family losses in his native England. How much of his personal struggle was at the heart of the ire in Common Sense? One can only speculate, but I can’t help but wonder if there might be something there.

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