The Republic of Letters: A Cultural History of the French Enlightenment

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Cornell University Press, Jan 1, 1996 - History - 338 pages
3 Reviews
In the first major reinterpretation of the French Enlightenment in twenty years, Dena Goodman moves beyond the traditional approach to the Enlightenment as a chapter in Western intellectual history and examines its deeper significance as cultural history. She finds the very epicenter of the Enlightenment in a community of discourse known as the Republic of Letters, where salons governed by women advanced the Enlightenment project "to change the common way of thinking". Goodman details the history of the Republic of Letters in the Parisian salons, where men and women, philosophes and salonnieres, together not only introduced reciprocity into intellectual life through the practices of letter writing and polite conversation but also developed a republican model of government that was to challenge the monarchy. Providing a new understanding of women's importance in the Enlightenment, Goodman demonstrates that in the Republic of Letters men and women played complementary - and unequal - roles. Salonnieres governed the Republic of Letters by enforcing rules of polite conversation that made possible a discourse characterized by liberty and civility. Goodman chronicles the story of the Republic of Letters from its earliest formation through major periods of change: the production of the Encyclopedia, the proliferation of a print culture that widened circles of readership beyond the control of salon governance, and the early years of the French Revolution. Although the legacy of the Republic of Letters remained a force in French cultural and political life, in the 1780s men formed new intellectual institutions that asserted their ability to govern themselves and that marginalized women. TheRepublic of Letters introduces provocative explanations both for the failure of the Enlightenment and for the role of the Enlightenment in the French Revolution.
  

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The republic of letters: a cultural history of the French enlightenment

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Goodman (history, Louisiana State Univ.) aims to re-create the social and cultural context in which the ideas of the Enlightenment were created and spread. Drawing from the work of Jurgen Habermas ... Read full review

Review: The Republic of Letters: A Cultural History of the French Enlightenment

User Review  - Saskia - Goodreads

I only read passages for research, yet from what I have read, I have encountered conflicting scholarship in direct response to this book (arguments that make more sense to me). Curiously entitled "a ... Read full review

Contents

A Cultural History of the French Enlightenment
1
of France
12
A Critique of Enlightenment
53
Salonnières and the Rules
90
Epistolary Commerce in the Republic
136
Discord in the Republic of Letters
183
Masculine SelfGovernance and the End of Salon Culture
233
The Enlightenment Republic of Letters and
281
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES
305
WORKS CITED 3 13
316
INDEX
329
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