The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France

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9780002558358: The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France

What causes revolutions? How does public opinion influence events? This work answers these questions by asking what the French people read in the 18th century. The answer lies only partially in the canon of the great Enlightenment philosophers: Voltaire, Diderot, Montesquieu, Rousseau. More popular than these works were other books bought and sold "under the cloak". Salacious, blasphemous, often pornographic and treasonous, these formed a libertine literature that undercut all the orthodox values of the old regime. This history of these books, and of the booksellers who sold them, presents an idiosyncratic guide to the ancien regime and its citizens.

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Review:

More popular than the canon of the great Enlightenment philosophers were other books, also banned by the regime, written and sold "under the cloak." These formed a libertine literature that was a crucial part of the culture of dissent in the Old Regime. Robert Darnton explores the cultural and political significance of these "bad" books and introduces readers to three of the most influential illegal best-sellers, from which he includes substantial excerpts. Winner of the 1995 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism.

About the Author:

Robert Darnton is the Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and the director of the University Library at Harvard University. His honors include a MacArthur Prize, the National Humanities Medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and election to the French Legion of Honor. He is the author of The Great Cat Massacre and The Forbidden Bestsellers of Pre-Revolutionary France, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.

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Darnton, Robert
Published by Harper Collins Publishers (1997)
ISBN 10: 0002558351 ISBN 13: 9780002558358
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Darnton, Robert
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