A Wicked Company

A Wicked Company

The Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment

Book - 2010
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Acclaimed historian, Philipp Blom, retraces the fortunes and characters of the men, that from the 1750s to the 1770s in the Paris salon of Baron Paul Thirty Holback had debated with intellectual daring and produced revolutionary ideas. These brilliant minds full of wit, courage, and humanity in their thinking created a different and radical French Enlightenment based on atheism, passion, empathy, and a compellingly insightful perspective on society.--[book cover]
Publisher: New York : Basic Books, c2010
ISBN: 9780465014538
Branch Call Number: 944.034 BLOM
Characteristics: xx, 361 p. : ill. ; 25 cm


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Nov 03, 2018

The organizing locus of the book is the dinners hosted by Holbach, and the people who attended them, with special focus on Diderot, Rousseau, and an array of others. I was surprised to learn of the turncoat priest, Meslier, and how influential his posthumous writings were. The manipulativeness and hypocrisy of Voltaire is (thankfully) exposed and demonstrated. Numerous works and their arguments are very briefly and clearly explicated. The narrative of events and relationships over the course of four decades the main driver of the book, and Blom makes something scholarly into something rich, interesting and entertaining. This would make a great book to accompany lectures introducing the Enlightenment and the philosophes. Extensive notes (of original sources in their original language, as well as scholarly studies) and useful further guide.

Feb 28, 2013

Lots of interesting stuff about Denis Diderot, Baruck Spinoza, and Rousseau that fills in many of the gaps I’ve had about the Enlightenment. A painless writing style. I enjoyed this.


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