A spirited biography of the prophetic and sympathetic philosopher who, along with Voltaire and Rousseau, helped build the foundations of the modern world.
Denis Diderot is often associated with the decades-long battle to bring the world’s first comprehensive Encyclopédie into existence. But his most daring writing took place in the shadows. Thrown into prison for his atheism in 1749, Diderot decided to reserve his best books for posterity—for us, in fact. In the astonishing cache of unpublished writings left behind after his death, Diderot dreamed of natural selection before Darwin, the Oedipus complex before Freud, and genetic manipulation centuries before Dolly the Sheep. Even more audaciously, the writer challenged virtually all of his century’s accepted truths, from the sanctity of monarchy, to the racial justification of the slave trade, to the complications of human sexuality. One of Diderot’s most attentive readers during his lifetime was Catherine the Great, who not only supported him financially, but invited him to St. Petersburg to talk about art and help her think about reforming her empire.
In this thematically organized biography, Andrew S. Curran vividly describes Diderot’s tormented relationship with Rousseau, his curious correspondence with Voltaire, his passionate affairs, and his often paradoxical stand on art, morality, politics, and religion. But what this book brings out most brilliantly is how the writer’s self-doubts were an essential part of his genius and his ability to flaunt taboos, dogma, and convention.
This volume examines the Enlightenment-era textualization of the Black African in European thought. Andrew S. Curran rewrites the history of blackness by replicating the practices of eighteenth-century readers. Surveying French and European travelogues, natural histories, works of anatomy, pro- and anti-slavery tracts, philosophical treatises, and literary texts, Curran shows how naturalists and philosophies drew from travel literature to discuss the perceived problem of human blackness within the nascent human sciences, describes how a number of now-forgotten anatomists revolutionized the era’s understanding of black Africans, and charts the shift of the slavery debate from the moral, mercantile, and theological realms toward that of the "black body" itself. In tracing this evolution, he shows how blackness changed from a mere descriptor in earlier periods into a thing to be measured, dissected, handled, and often brutalized. Penetrating and comprehensive, The Anatomy of Blackness shows that, far from being a monolithic idea, eighteenth-century Africanist discourse emerged out of a vigorous, varied dialogue that involved missionaries, slavers, colonists, naturalists, anatomists, philosophers, and Africans themselves.
OTHER WRITING SECTION you created for her: http://www.amitygaige.com/other-writing
And I also have something on Diderot’s Paris I can put there.. That might be the ticket !
SITE TITLE IN FUTURA PT
1. COLORS: I love contrasts, blues with light colors, color harmonies… calming colors with poppy accents. Pretty open on color.
2. FONTS: avenir, Brandon Grotesque, century gothic, Trajan ( pretentious ? ) , Adobe Garamond…..but you should find the one that makes sense.. Again, I defer tho’ I will love to talk to you about this.
3. WEBSITES :
It might be interesting to really throw some personality about me in the site..
I’m not famous so I can’t be so subtle, but I like this.
Always loved mise en abyme things.
This has nothing to do with me but it is cool dreamy.
I love the feeling of big space, geography, and unexpected movement. Not for my site, surely, but there is something cool here.
4. WHOM I ADMIRE?
Amy Bloom - love her and like her site. amybloom.com
As to those people I don’t… well…. I’ll leave that one alone for now unless we both drink some bourbon and talk on the phone.
5. WHAT I LIKE IN LIFE:
I love food, being convivial, freethinking, being expansive, travel, thinking, writing, intense friendships, joking around, being funny…
I love the juxtaposition of new and old…. I am nostalgic for a past that never existed . . .. but still trying to manufacture it in the present.