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La France des Lumières (edition 1993)
by Daniel Roche
France in the Enlightenment by Daniel Roche
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0674317475, Hardcover)The 18th-century Enlightenment celebrated human individualism and the ability of the mind to understand and determine the course of human events. Empowered by Descartes's radical affirmation of the human intellect ("I think, therefore I am") and the essentially limitless capacity of scientific inquiry, Western European thinkers broke away from medieval tradition, proclaiming knowledge to be rational, theoretical, scientific, and universal. Masters of their own fate, they sought to identify forms of knowledge useful for social development and personal prosperity.
Daniel Roche, a Sorbonne history professor, explores the effects of this movement in France from the perspective of the men and women who experienced it, comparing and integrating points of view that historians have usually kept separate. Foregrounding possible connections between facts of intellectual and material culture, Roche centers his study around three primary relationships: that of social roles and government action, of the monarchical state to its subjects and corporations, and, finally, of the fundamental values of the period to those of the preceding century.
France in the Enlightenment is not meant to provide an entry-level introduction to the period. Roche, who has devoted his academic career to this era, assumes his reader possesses a fundamental knowledge of its major thinkers and events and, with his enthusiastic, in-depth treatment of the subject matter, can overload the reader with detail. Arthur Goldhammer's English translation is seamless, yet it faithfully reproduces Roche's discursive sidetracks along with his insights. For those already familiar to the period, France in the Enlightenment provides a highly informative compendium and a compelling analysis of the diverse individuals, events, and ideas of 18th-century France. --Bertina Loeffler
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:28 -0400)
"France in the Enlightenment brings the Old Regime to life by showing how its institutions operated and how they were understood by the people who worked within them. Daniel Roche begins with a map of space and time, depicting France as a mosaic of overlapping geographical units, with people and goods traversing it to the rhythms of everyday life. He fills this frame with the patterns of rural life, urban culture, and government institutions. Here as never before we see the eighteenth-century French "culture of appearances": the organization of social life, the diffusion of ideas, the accoutrements of ordinary people in the folkways of ordinary living - their food and clothing, living quarters, reading material. Roche shows us the eighteenth-century France of the peasant, the merchant, the noble, the King, from Paris to the provinces, from the public space to the private home."--BOOK JACKET.
(summary from another edition)
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