Inventing Eastern Europe

By Larry Wolff,

Book cover of Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment

Book description

This is a wide-ranging intellectual history of how, in the 18th century, Europe came to be conceived as divided into "Western Europe" and "Eastern Europe". The author argues that this conceptual reorientation from the previously accepted "Northern" and "Southern" was a work of cultural construction and intellectual artifice created by…

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Why read it?

1 author picked Inventing Eastern Europe as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Again, this may be a bit dense reading but Wolff tackles the very notion of “Eastern Europe.”

The Enlightenment was a philosophical movement that began in the mid-17th century and lasted until about 1800, and it focused on remaking politics. Enlightenment thinkers believed in change and progress, that Europeans were not doomed to suffer under the tyranny of feudal kings.

Wolff explores how these Enlightenment thinkers celebrated an Age of Progress in Western Europe – but were less impressed with the Eastern half. For thinkers like Voltaire, “Eastern Europe” came to mean backward, under-developed, superstitious, and violent Europe.


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