Including: Clandestine Best-Sellers of the Pre-Revolutionary Era
July 17, 2012 9:59 AM Subscribe
posted by Marauding Ennui (5 comments total)
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"The French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe
project uses database technology to map the trade of the Société Typographique de Neuchâtel
(STN), a celebrated Swiss publishing house that operated between 1769 and 1794. As the STN sold the works of other publishers alongside its own editions, their archives can be considered a representative source for studying the history of the book trade and dissemination of ideas in the late Enlightenment."
What made it to the bestselling lists in the late 18th century? A scandalous judicial memoir involving incest - "Planta gagnant sa vie en honnête homme
"; an entertaining description of an urban community, hailed as the first description of "everyday life" in France - "Tableau de Paris
"; the text of an anti-clerical play about the St. Bartholomew's day massacre - "La Destruction de la Ligue
". These last two by Louis-Sébastien Mercier (also known as Jean-Jacques' Ape), a follower of Rousseau.
Also, The Illegal Book Trade that Started the French Revolution
, a review of a (pre-browsable STN database) study by Robert Darnton, "The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France", which "traces the merging of philosophical, sexual, and anti-monarchical interests into the pulp fiction of the 1780s, banned books".