Author bio

Denis Diderot

Denis Diderot - book author

Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer. He was a prominent persona during the Enlightenment and is best known for serving as co-founder and chief editor of and contributor to the Encyclopédie.

Diderot also contributed to literature, notably with Jacques le fataliste et son maître (Jacques the Fatalist and his Master), which emulated Laurence Sterne in challenging conventions regarding novels and their structure and content, while also examining philosophical ideas about free will. Diderot is also known as the author of the dialogue, Le Neveu de Rameau (Rameau's Nephew), upon which many articles and sermons about consumer desire have been based. His articles included many topics of the Enlightenment.

As a philosopher Diderot speculated on free will and held a completely materialistic view of the universe; he suggested all human behavior is determined by heredity. He therefore warned his fellow philosophers against an overemphasis on mathematics and against the blind optimism that sees in the growth of physical knowledge an automatic social and human progress. He rejected the Idea of Progress. In his opinion, the aim of progressing through technology was doomed to fail. He founded his philosophy on experiment and the study of probabilities. He wrote several articles and supplements concerning gambling, mortality rates, and inoculation against smallpox for the Encyclopédie. There he discreetly but firmly refuted d'Alembert's technical errors and personal positions on probability.

Denis Diderot is the author of books: Jacques the Fatalist, The Nun, Rameau's Nephew / D'Alembert's Dream, Le neveu de Rameau, Supplément au Voyage de Bougainville, Paradoxe sur le comédien, The Indiscreet Jewels, Lettre sur les aveugles, Rameau's Nephew, and Other Works, Encyclopedie 1

Author books

Jacques the Fatalist is a provocative exploration of the problems of human existence, destiny, and free will. In the introduction to this brilliant translation, David Coward explains the philosophical basis of Diderot's fascination with fate and examines the experimental and influential literary techniques that make Jacques the Fatalist a classic of the Enlightenment.
Diderot's The Nun (La Religieuse) is the seemingly true story of a young girl forced by her parents to enter a convent and take holy orders. A novel mingling mysticism, madness, sadistic cruelty and nascent sexuality, it gives a scathing insight into the effects of forced vocations and the unnatural life of the convent. A succès de scandale at the end of the eighteenth century, it has attracted and unsettled readers ever since. For Diderot's novel is not simply a story of a young girl with a bad habit; it is also a powerfully emblematic fable about oppression and intolerance.

This new translation includes Diderot's all-important prefatory material, which he placed, disconcertingly, at the end of the novel, and which turns what otherwise seems like an exercise in realism into what is now regarded as a masterpiece of proto-modernist fiction.
One of the key figures of the French Enlightenment, Denis Diderot was a passionate critic of conventional morality, society and religion. Among his greatest and most well-known works, these two dialogues are dazzling examples of his radical scientific and philosophical beliefs. In Rameau's Nephew, the eccentric and foolish nephew of the great composer Jean-Philippe Rameau meets Diderot by chance, and the two embark on a hilarious consideration of society, music, literature, politics, morality and philosophy. Its companion-piece, D'Alembert's Dream, outlines a material, atheistic view of the universe, expressed through the fevered dreams of Diderot's friend D'Alembert. Unpublished during his lifetime, both of these powerfully controversial works show Diderot to be one of the most advanced thinkers of his age, and serve as fascinating testament to the philosopher's wayward genius.
Les protagonistes du dialogue de Diderot, A et B, discutent du Voyage autour du monde du navigateur français Louis Antoine de Bougainville récemment paru (en 1771). B propose de parcourir un prétendu Supplément qui remet en question certaines prétendues évidences énoncées par Bougainville, premier français ayant fait le tour du monde. Deux passages de ce Supplément sont enchâssés dans la discussion : Les adieux du vieillard, et le long Entretien de l'aumônier et d'Orou.
Pour Diderot, le théâtre ne saurait être pure délectation, il doit prendre sa place dans le grand mouvement expressif, critique et novateur auquel, personnellement, il a délibérément consacré la majeure part de son activité d'homme.
The Indiscreet Jewels (also translated as The Talking Pussy) is perhaps the most daring of Diderot's 'philosophical' novels—a fearlessly libertine fable on the order of such ribald classics as "Boccaccio" and "Rabelais." Published in 1748, this fiction is a take-off on the erotic-oriental tales popular at the time. Set in a sultan's court in the Congo, the novel begins with Mangogul (the Sultan) suffering from acute boredom, only to be rescued by a genie offering the potentate a magic ring that, when pointed at women, causes their genitals, or 'jewels,' to speak. The resulting story, delightful in its wit and satire, was so openly irreverent and critical of the French Court at Versailles—with the Sultan as Louis XV and his favorite as Mme de Pompadour—that it caused Diderot some egregious trouble with the Parisian authorities. But "The Indiscreet Jewels" is more than just a political roman a clef. The Sultan's 'scientific method' reveals an allegory of the female body. What the 'jewels' say is at once a parody and supreme example of the French Enlightenment's urge to seek knowledge above and beyond the hypocrisies, inhibitions, and limitations of everyday life.
This anthology features unabridged translations of Diderot's best work as a literary artist, including those writings that embody his most original and influential ideas.
Furono necessari ventuno anni per comporre l'Enciclopedia, dal 1751 al 1772. L'opera completa consta di ventotto volumi per un totale di settantaduemila articoli scritti da un numero mai documentato di contributori e dalle firme più prestigiose della cultura dei Lumi. Questa antologia a cura di Paolo Casini, che firma anche l'introduzione, rende disponibile una campionatura di tutta l'opera che include gli articoli più significativi e gli autori più notevoli. Vi si presentano i testi indispensabili per comprendere la storia politica e ideologica dell'Enciclopedia e i conflitti cui essa dette luogo, ma anche i temi generali di argomento filosofico, morale e scientifico che dopo due secoli conservano intatta la loro attualità.