Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely
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Item Dimensions: 934632167126
Label: Other Press
Languages: EnglishPublishedEnglishOriginal LanguageEnglishUnknown
Manufacturer: Other Press
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 528
Publication Date: January 15, 2019
Publisher: Other Press
Release Date: January 15, 2019
Studio: Other Press
Alternate Versions: Click to Display
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A spirited biography of the prophetic and sympathetic philosopher who helped build the foundations of the modern world.
Denis Diderot is often associated with the decades-long battle to bring the world's first comprehensive Encyclopédie into existence. But his most daring writing took place in the shadows. Thrown into prison for his atheism in 1749, Diderot decided to reserve his best books for posterity--for us, in fact. In the astonishing cache of unpublished writings left behind after his death, Diderot challenged virtually all of his century's accepted truths, from the sanctity of monarchy, to the racial justification of the slave trade, to the norms of human sexuality. One of Diderot's most attentive readers during his lifetime was Catherine the Great, who not only supported him financially, but invited him to St. Petersburg to talk about the possibility of democratizing the Russian empire.
In this thematically organized biography, Andrew S. Curran vividly describes Diderot's tormented relationship with Rousseau, his curious correspondence with Voltaire, his passionate affairs, and his often iconoclastic stands on art, theater, morality, politics, and religion. But what this book brings out most brilliantly is how the writer's personal turmoil was an essential part of his genius and his ability to flout taboos, dogma, and convention.
An Amazon Best Book of January 2019: Sometimes you stumble upon a book and think, Why didn’t I know about this before now? In Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely, Andrew Curran’s spirited biography, Diderot emerges from the page as not just an Enlightenment philosopher, a contemporary of Rousseau and Voltaire, and the lead writer of the Encyclopédie—he also steps out as a truly free thinker and master of dissent, even for today’s times. Although he had many followers, including Catherine the Great, Diderot chose, probably wisely, to record some of his most provocative thoughts in unpublished novels. Author Curran uncovers these writings for us, sifting through Diderot’s thoughts and arguments, adding context, and sweeping us up in Diderot’s words, his times, and his ideas. It is a relatively fun read and a fascinating journey. For a philosopher living during the Enlightenment, Denis Diderot sure was a Renaissance man. —Chris Schluep, Amazon Book Review
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