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Blom believes that Holbach has been unjustly neglected and relegated to the footnotes of history because his materialism and atheism are rejected today. His enthusiasm and passion for his subject can be contagious, particularly his delight at the possibility of an undocumented meeting s between Franklin and Diderot during F Ultimately, I wasn’t crazy about this.

Holbach married and settled in Paris, holding his salons from to the late s. He does a good job tying these debates and personal contentions to their historical impact, and overall the presentation is detailed and nuanced.

A Wicked Company: The Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment by Philipp Blom

In A Phili;p Companyacclaimed historian Philipp Blom retraces the fortunes of this exceptional group of friends. It is a book on personalitie I wanted to read this book as my knowledge of the Enlightenment was sketchy it still is, to be fair.

Portraying Rousseau as a totalitarian has a long history. De scherpe pen van Friedrich Nietzsche merkte hieromtrent op dat Voltaire de laatste grote geest van het oude Frankrijk was en Diderot de eerste grote geest van het nieuwe Frankrijk. But the book strikes a chord, and confirms my biased opinion that the radical, atheistic, hedonistic Enlightenment thought with its emphasis on the individual in a social context, going back to Epicurus, and pjilipp amongst others Nietzsche, Shelley, and dare I even suggest it, Dawkins, is a much better guide for today than the soft, watered down and much better known version with its deistic emphas It is clear from the outset whom the author likes and dislikes, and whom he wants us to like.

Philipp Blom

It gives you a sense of what the French Enlightenment was ;hilipp about and who the major players were, and makes a compelling case that those players were not who we are traditionally taught they were.

The extent of censorship and suppression that the circle worked under is also effectively conveyed. Above all it is a necessary read for those who would prefer to live in a country that wishes to keep the wall up between secular government and organized religion. Feb 17, Rachel rated it really liked it. Grobin’s rendition on audible. A duchess has no higher claim to happiness than the humblest peasant, and a society in which happiness is possible not just for the privileged few can be achieved only through solidarity and cooperation.


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Also wonderful feminist beginnings, murmurs of what would become the glorious liberation of half phiipp Humanity in the West–which we are still trying to achieve –where first tolled among the salons of Baron de Holbach and Denis Diderot. Quotes from A Wicked Company Met kleurrijke details en anekdotes over alle protagonisten zet Blom de Philosophes neer als mensen van vlees en bloed die ook hun kleine kantjes hadden.

A startlingly relevant work of narrative history, A Wicked Company forces us to confront with new eyes the foundational debates about modern society and its future. The Rights of Man were openly discussed in the Paris salons of the ‘ – ‘s and penny or more rightly, “sou” pamphlets were published and sold days later in the black market.

I am not terribly invested with the subject matter however, so this book may be for those more passionate in its study. He makes the most horrendous flippant generalizations and does nothing to back up his position other than an implied “if you don’t agree with pdligrosa, you must be one of those radical Christians destroying our world. Veering from lush biography to discussions on the ideas of humaneness, psychology, equality, freedom of thought, resistance to authoritarianism, and atheism, this book is an inspiring and involving discussion.

Even today, this vision has lost none of its persuasiveness and appeal. Aug peligross, Norman S rated it it was amazing. Je leeft soms echt met hen mee en krijgt een idee hoe het er tussen hen peligdosa toe ging.

Of particular interest for me was the clarification of different types of Enlightenment that Blom outlines towards the end of his book: De vriendschap vertroebelde echter door de labiele persoonlijkheid van Rousseau — hij had vaak te kampen met aanvallen van razernij en werd geplaagd door paranoia waardoor hij overal samenzweringen tegen zijn geniale zelf zag.

Trivia About A Wicked Company Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. I’m not expert on this particular century, but the number of mistakes I picked out were embarrassing.


Thankfully, he gets off the horse periodically and gives the reader some excellent intellectual history with very clear expositions of different thinkers’ philosophies and comparisons between them. De burgemeester van Antwerpen suggereerde zo bijvoorbeeld dat een maatschappij geen voldoende sterke moraal kan hebben als ze enkel vertrouwt op een liefdevolle en redelijke opvoeding en onderwijs dat gebaseerd is op zelfontplooiing Bildung.

Zo wordt de link gelegd tussen enerzijds het tamelijk onbekende Griekse epicurische denken via de Romein Lucretius en de wegbereiders Pierre Bayle en Baruch Spinoza en anderzijds Diderot en Holbach. He makes a decent case for the negative tendencies of Rousseau’s philosophy but Rousseau is not the whole of the moderate Enlightenment.

A Wicked Company: The Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment

Repetitive writing, jumping timelines, and rambling points made this less enjoyable. Blom concentrates on the Paris salon of Baron d’Holbach, which dominated philosophical and political discourse in Europe, and arguably the world, in the midC. What is more he was the favourite philosopher of Maximilien Robespierre and this, for Blom, ties him to the revolutionary terror and to all forms of totalitarianism in the twentieth century.

I was moved to consider the unintentiona This vlom an interesting interpretation of the radical enlightenment within Pre-Revolutionary French society. His academic works include: This is an excellent book on French enlightenment philosophers, especially Diderot, Holbach, and to a lesser extent Rousseau. The only complaint I had was the detail in which the author explained the ideas of the philosophes. They sought to have a society based on mutual respect, without masters and slaves, without oppressors and oppressed.

I wanted to read this book as my knowledge of the Enlightenment was sketchy it still is, to be fair. This is explained clearly and at length, in a highly sympathetic and appealing style. The peligrosaa thing is that his dislike of Voltaire and Rousseau his hobby horse feels so personal–weird because they are two very dead philosophers and I doubt he has had any run-ins with them.

Superb account of radical French Enlightenment intellectuals, Diderot and d’Holbach, whom the author believes history has forgotten, partly because they were bold enough to be atheists.