Enlightening the World: Encyclopedie, The Book That Changed the Course of History

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In 1777 several of the world's greatest men gathered together to create a book that would champion rationalism, free thinking, and secularism--the Encyclopédie. Such leading minds as Diderot, Rousseau, and Voltaire conceived of a work that would tear down the social order dominated by the Crown and Church, a brave act at a time when heresy could still be punished by death. During the years it took to produce all twenty-seven volumes, the writers faced exile, jail, and censorship. But when they were done, they had created a book that would provide the foundation for the Enlightenment and change the world forever. Novelist and historian Philipp Blom presents the story behind the sixteen-year struggle to create the Encyclopédie, the men who wrote it, the powerful forces that tried to suppress it, and the tremendous impact it had on the world.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Superb... Blom artfully brings to life the 27-volume work that symbolized its era, the 'Encyclopedie."—The Philadelphia Inquirer

"With exceptional interpretive skill, Philipp Blom provides a fascinating study—replete with wonderful stories, racy gossip, and grand personalities—of the arduous struggle to produce the work that became a testament to humanity: The Encyclopedia."— Stephen Eric Bronner, Rutgers University

"...not only a tribute to a very worthy project of enlightenment and liberation; it is also a thoroughly good read."—The Literary Review

"Blom, a journalist, novelist, and translator, provides a rich, informative, and lively history of the Encyclopédie and those who worked on it, going so far as to recover some of its unsung heroes, e.g., Louis de Jaucourt who provided some 20,000 entries. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries."—Library Journal

"Meticulously researched . . . . thorough and engaging . . . this book is a welcome read for European historians and for those interested in learning about one of the foremost works of the Enlightenment. "— Publishers Weekly

"Mr. Blom does not attempt to sustain his title's sweeping claim, and perhaps this is just as well; for his own strengths lies less in measuring the effect and reception of lies than in telling stories about the lives and passions of their makers. This he doe with considerable skill, painting colorful sketches of the leading 'Encyclopedists" of the 18th Century."—Darrin McMahon, Wall Street Journal June 2005

"The Encyclopedie's story is both epic and epochal, and Blom tells it intelligentlu, gracefully, and stylishly."—Ray Olsen, Booklist

"Philipp Blom is a talented stylist who exploits a variety of narrative forms while tackling a wide range of topics." —H-France Review

Library Journal
Neither the first nor the longest book of its kind, the great Encyclopedie of Diderot, d'Alembert, Rousseau, and a host of other luminaries was nevertheless the crowning achievement of the Enlightenment. While its major participants completed their 20-year labor with a sense of disillusionment, the Encyclopedie challenged authority by ignoring kings and saints and categorizing knowledge clearly and accessibly. Blom, a journalist, novelist, and translator, provides a rich, informative, and lively history of the Encyclop die and those who worked on it, going so far as to recover some of its unsung heroes, e.g., Louis de Jaucourt who provided some 20,000 entries. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-Thomas L. Cooksey, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ., Savannah, GA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403968951
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 6/11/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.49 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Philipp Blom is a journalist, translator, novelist, and historian. He is author of To Have and To Hold and writes regularly for the Times Literary Supplement and The Daily Telegraph. He lives in Paris.

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Table of Contents

Prologue xiii
Paris, 1739 1
Friendship 15
Project 35
Prison 51
Philosophe 69
Controversy 81
Play of Nature 101
The War of Fools 123
Encyclopedie 139
Love of the Sexes 159
Virtue 177
Regicide 189
Geneva 203
Fanaticism 221
Hide, Dissemble, Disguise 237
Metier 251
Phoenix 267
Mutilation 283
Posterity 303
Bibliography 327
Notes 337
Index 357
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