More Praise

for

Diderot And The Art Of

Thinking Freely


“Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely "is a triumphant work; it is detailed, and meticulously researched [. . .] and tells us about the man and his work. [An] intelligent and highly readable biography.”

— Paul Burke, NB

“Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely, is a brilliant, sparkling affair that courses over every major and minor incident in Diderot’s remarkable life.”

— Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Review

 

“A fascinating biography of Enlightenment philosopher Denis Diderot—one of history’s most famous contrarians.”

Business Insider

“In this new biography, Curran looks to remind us just what a radical Diderot was in his time.”

New York Times Book Review, New and Noteworthy Books

 

“An exuberant exploration of this endlessly fascinating writer—we need our Diderots now more than ever.”

— Sarah Bakewell, New York Times bestselling author of At the Existentialist Café

“Denis Diderot was many things—freethinking philosophe, tireless encyclopedist, trenchant art critic, iconoclastic dramatist, daring sexologist, spirited dialogist, and intimate adviser to Catherine the Great—and Andrew Curran brings them all vividly to life in this enlightening and engaging book.”

— Michael Massing, author of Fatal Discord: Erasmus, Luther, and the Fight for the Western Mind

 

“Andrew Curran has given us an invigorationg and wide-ranging new biography of the brilliant Encyclopédiste, bringing to life his complicated relationships and the ideas he explored throughout his protean intellectual career.”

— Leo Damrosch, author of Eternity's Sunrise: The Imaginative World of William Blake

Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely not only offers an absorbing sketch of life in eighteenth-century France; it provides dazzling insight into critical issues including the existence of God and freedom of speech. Among the many things that this book accomplishes, it gives readers a taste of the emancipatory power of philosophy.

— Thierry Hoquet, author of Revisiting the Origin of Species: The Other Darwins

 

“In this lively and elegantly crafted portrait of one of the eigthteenth century's greatest minds, Curran gives us a Diderot at once true to his times and intensely relevant to our own. It is a book that will both enlighten and entertain specialists and general readers alike.”

— Darrin M. McMahon, author of Happiness: A History

“Curran narrates with verve the story of Diderot's life, but also his late masterpieces, unknown in their own time and written for posterity. Diderot And The Art Of Thinking Freely gives us, as hoped, a Diderot for today.”

— Sophia Rosenfeld, author of Common Sense: A Political History

 

“One of the most creative and intriguing thinkers of eighteenth-century France comes to life in Andrew Curran’s new biography of Denis Diderot. In this bibliographical tour de force, Curran shows us a protean writer who stands for the French Enlightenment, an age whose greatest writers took up the challenge—and embraced the pleasure—of ‘thinking freely.’ Rigorously researched and engagingly written, Curran’s book deftly paints the vivid picture of a multi-faceted and daring thinker who constantly raised essential questions about what it means to be human.”

— Daniel Brewer, University of Minnesota

“Curran. . .weaves a thrilling narrative that grants. . .an intimate look at Diderot’s life and intellectual development. The Art of Thinking Freely’s] impish tone and conversational quality remind us of those “fireplace conversations” that Diderot saw as one of life’s greatest pleasures.”

— Elena Russo, author of Styles of Enlightenment

 

“Why read about Diderot’s life today? Because his philosophy was about life. Because this philosopher’s thinking is very much alive, today more than ever. And because this biography is brimming with life—ideas of life and the life of ideas.”

— Éric Fassin, author of Populism Left and Right

“Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely weaves together biography and intellectual history to tell a compelling tale. Following the philosophe from his childhood as a cutler’s son to his service, late in life, as a cultural attaché to Catherine the Great, Curran shines new light on Diderot’s major writings by situating them in their personal, cultural, and political contexts. Along the way, Curran recaptures the radicalism of the monumental Encyclopédie and other texts that are now cornerstones of the Enlightenment canon but were condemned as dangerous—even blasphemous—by church and state alike in the 1700s.”

— Laura Auricchio, author of The Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered

 

“Curran’s biography is a triumphant work; it is detailed, and meticulously researched, this study tells us about the man and his work.”

NB Magazine

“This enjoyable biography of French philosopher Denis Diderot (1713-1784) engages with the life of this man who was imprisoned for his atheism — and with his ideas, which brashly challenged beliefs about religion, race, royalty, sex and morality.”

Newsday