The Literary Underground of the Old Regime

By Robert Darnton,

Book cover of The Literary Underground of the Old Regime

Book description

Robert Darnton introduces us to the shadowy world of pirate publishers, garret scribblers, under-the-cloak book peddlers, smugglers, and police spies that composed the literary underground of the Enlightenment.

Here are the ambitious writers who crowded into Paris seeking fame and fortune within the Republic of Letters, but who instead sank…


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Why read it?

1 author picked The Literary Underground of the Old Regime as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

It is widely accepted that the French Revolution would not have occurred without the preceding Enlightenment. But what exactly was the Enlightenment? In this now classic study, Robert Darnton broadened the perspective on this question, to examine the writers, publishers, booksellers, peddlers, and smugglers responsible for the circulation of “enlightened” ideas.  Often operating illegally underground or even abroad in “Grub Street,” these producers and distributors of Enlightenment played a key role in subverting the Old Regime centered on monarchy, Church, and aristocracy, which would come crashing down in 1789.

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