P.N. Furbank Diderot: A Critical Biography

ISBN 13: 9780679414216

Diderot: A Critical Biography

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9780679414216: Diderot: A Critical Biography

A portrait of one of key figures of the French Enlightenment provides a incisive study of Diderot's private life, public career, and his literary and philosophical works. By the author of E. M. Forster: A Life.

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About the Author:

P.N. Furbank was born in Surrey in 1920 and has worked as an academic, in publishing and as a freelance writer and critic. In 1986 he was appointed Visiting Professor in Literature at the Open University.His publications include Samuel Butler (1835-1902), Italo Svevo: The Man and the Writer, Reflections on the Word 'Image', E.M. Forster: A Life, Unholy Pleasure: The Idea of Social Class and (with W.R. Owens) The Canonisation of Daniel Defoe.

From Publishers Weekly:

"Truly, posterity would be an ungrateful wretch if it forgot me altogether," wrote Denis Diderot (1713-1784), "seeing how often I remember it."305 Diderot was not to be forgotten but rather misremembered, often as simply the cutler's son who for 20-plus years labored over that monument of the 18th century, the Encyclopedie. This account gives short shrift to a life that included a spell in prison, the writing of a pornographic novel, an eccentric family, a longtime love affair and a circle of celebrated friends, among them D'Alembert, Mme d'Epinay, Grimm and Rousseau. It also shortchanges the works that are uniquely Diderot's own. Furbank's ( E. M. Forster ) special strength is in illuminating Diderot's plays, philosophical writings, art criticism and fiction, lucidly following his struggle with two ideas--fiction as deception and fiction as illusion. Weaving together biography and criticism can distort a subject's chronology and can strain a writer's transitions and place undue demands on a reader, such as having to recall the dates of works each time they are mentioned. But works and life are unavoidably integral; as Marmontel notes, "He who knows Diderot only from his books does not know him at all." Furbank certainly does not fit into this category. Illustrations not seen by PW .
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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