The Encyclopedists as a group

a collective biography of the authors of the Encyclopédie

Author: Frank A Kafker

Volume: 345

Series: SVEC

Publication Date: 1996

Pages: 250

ISBN: 978-0-7294-0521-8

Price: £65


This collective biography examines the similarities and differences among the 140 collaborators identified as having written articles for the seventeen folio volumes of text. It discusses the following topics: the family background, formal education, and occupational choice of the encyclopedists; how and where they were recruited for the Encyclopédie and their compensation; their contributions to the work and wheter they were censored or persecuted or both because of them; their political and religious ideas; their productivity in old age; and, for those who lived past 1789, how they reacted to the French Revolution and the reign of Napoleon.
In this book Frank A. kafker challenges a stereotype that has grown up about the Encyclopedits. Many scholars continue a tradition of writing about them as if they were united in a campaign to destroy the Old Regime. But they were, moreover, a varied collection of men of letters, physicians, scientists, craftsmen, scholars, and others, each frequently supporting his own point of view with little central direction. The Encyclopédie became not a party statement but rather a great compendium of knowledge, a mixture of ideas – some progressive and some conservative – filled with contradictions and innovations.

List of maps
A chart of biographical information on the Encyclopedists
Dates of publication of the volumes of the Encyclopédie
I. Introduction
I. The Encyclopedists before the publication of the Encyclopédie
II. The Encyclopedists from 1751-1787
2. The regional and institutional centres of the Encyclopedic enterprise
3. The recruitment and pay of the contributors
4. The scholarly calibre of the team
5. The religious and political ideas of the Encyclopédie and the Encyclopedists
6. The effects of censorship on the Encyclopédie and the Encyclopedists
7. The effects of persecution on the Encyclopédie and the Encyclopedists
III. The Encyclopedists and the French Revolution
8. The Encyclopedists and the coming of the French Revolution (1787-1789)
9. The Encyclopedists and the Reign of Terror (1793-1794)
IV. The later years of the Encyclopedists
10. Old age and productivity among the Encyclopedists
V. Conclusion
11. The Encyclopedists and the rule of Napoleon (1799-1815)
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Voltaire Foundation

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