The Forbidden Best-sellers of Pre-revolutionary France

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W.W. Norton, 1995 - History - 440 pages
What were the ideological origins of the French Revolution? What were the connections between this epochal event and the eighteenth-century revolution in thought, the Enlightenment? How did ideas penetrate politics and society two centuries ago? How does public opinion influence events? To address these big questions in the history of the modern world, the distinguished historian Robert Darnton poses a comparatively small one: What did the French read in the eighteenth century? The answer lies only partially in the canon of the great Enlightenment philosophes: Voltaire, Diderot, Montesquieu, Rousseau. More popular than these works - indeed, the best-sellers of their time - were other books, also banned by the regime, written and sold "under the cloak." These formed a libertine literature that undercut all the orthodox values of the Old Regime.

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Continuing his expert exploration of 18th-century French publishing and reading, Darnton (Berlin Journal, 1991, etc.) takes on the salacious, seditious, and sociological natures of the potboilers ... Read full review

The forbidden best-sellers of pre-revolutionary France

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With this volume, Darnton consolidates his position as one of the most innovative and influential historians of 18th-century France. For over 25 years, Darnton (Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of ... Read full review

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About the author (1995)

Robert Darnton is Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of European History at Princeton University.

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