Representing private lives of the Enlightenment

Volume: 2010:11

Series: SVEC

Volume Editors: Andrew Kahn

Series Collaborators: Lise Andries,CNRS-Université de Paris IV-Sorbonne; OliOlivier Ferret, Université Lyon 2; Matthew Grenby, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne; Andrew Kahn, St Edmund Hall, Oxford; Mark Ledbury, University of Sydney; Sarah Maza, Northwestern University; Alison Oliver, Voltaire Foundation, Oxford; Irina Reyfman,Columbia University; Andreas Schönle, Queen Mary, University of London; Adam Sutcliffe, King’s College London; Caroline Warman, Jesus College, Oxford; Shearer West, AHRC; Larry Wolff, New York University; Viktor Zhivov, U. C. Berkeley; Andrei Zorin, Taylor Institution, Oxford.

Publication Date: 2010

Pages: 379

ISBN: 978-0-7294-1003-8

Price: £75


What constituted the ‘private’ in the eighteenth-century? In Representing private lives of the Enlightenment authors look beyond a simple equation of the private and the domestic to explore the significance of the individual and its constructions of identity and environment.
Taking case studies from Russia, France, Italy and England, specialists from a range of disciplines analyse descriptions of the private situated largely outside the familial context: the nobleman at the theatre or in his study, the woman in her boudoir, portraitists and their subject, the solitary wanderer in the public garden, the penitent at confession. This critical approach provides a comparative framework that simultaneously confirms the Enlightenment as a pan-European movement, both intellectually and socially, whilst uncovering striking counterpoints. What emerges is a unique sense of how individuals from different classes and cultures sought to map their social and domestic sphere, and an understanding of the permeable boundaries separating private and public.

Andrew Kahn, Introduction: The problem of private life
Sarah Maza, Historians and eighteenth-century private life: an overview
Caroline Warman, Intimate, deprived, uncivilised: Diderot and the publication of the private moment
Olivier Ferret, Inventing private lives: the representation of private lives in French Vies privées
Lise Andries, The private life of criminals
Alison Oliver, La Nouvelle Héloïse and Wolmar’s project: transforming passion into ‘familiarité fraternelle’
Larry Wolff, Private life, personal liberty and sexual crime in eighteenth-century Venice: the case of Gaetano Franceschini
Viktor Zhivov, Handling sin in eighteenth-century Russia
Irina Reyfman, Writing, ranks and the eighteenth-century Russian gentry experience
Andreas Schönle, Private walks and public gazes: Enlightenment and the use of gardens in eighteenth-century Russia
Mark Ledbury, Embracing and escaping the material: genre painting, objects and private life in eighteenth-century France
Shearer West, Eccentricity and the self: private character in English public portraiture
Adam Sutcliffe, Friendship and materialism in the French Enlightenment
M.O. Grenby, Captivating Enlightenment: eighteenth-century children’s books and the private life of the child
Andrei Zorin, Schiller, gonorrhoea and original sin in the emotional life of a Russian nobleman



‘…this new collection, while unavoidably in dialogue with its illustrious predecessor, brings a freshness to the subject that moves away from the traditional view of “private” as domestic and so in opposition to the public sphere, towards a whole series of alternative definitions of privacy and individuality.’


‘…a lively and engaging work that deserves an important place in contemporary social studies of European bourgeois culture.’

Voltaire Foundation

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