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Read Me What to read, 1701-1750

\/ 1601-1700 | 1751-1800 /\

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Comment: The dear good people don't know how long it takes to learn to read. I've been at it eighty years, and can't say yet that I've reached the goal. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

\/ Earlier 18th Century

Comte de MIRABEAU (Honore Gabriel Riqueti, 1749-1791) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a French revolutionary, as well as a writer, diplomat, journalist and French politician. ... During the French Revolution, he was a moderate, favoring a constitutional monarchy built on the model of Great Britain --Wikipedia
Memoirs of Mirabeau: biographical, literary, and political (1835-36)
Comment: Those parts ... that are by Mirabeau himself consist mainly in extracts from letters and speeches. --J. A. Hammerton

Vittorio ALFIERI (1749-1803) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: an Italian dramatist and poet, considered the "founder of Italian tragedy." --Wikipedia
Saul (1782)

Edward JENNER (1749-1823) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: an English physician and scientist ... He is often called "the father of immunology" --Wikipedia
An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolae Vaccinae (1798)
Comment: he had demonstrated in twenty-two cases that vaccination with cowpox matter gave complete protection against smallpox. --Robert B. Downs

Pierre Simon LAPLACE (1749-1827) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a French mathematician and astronomer whose work was pivotal to the development of mathematical astronomy and statistics --Wikipedia
Comment: It was in that rather restrictive and perfectly reasonable sense--the sense in which he had concluded that God did not need to intervene to keep the planets in their orbits--that he uttered the famous line to Napolean, when the latter asked him about the place of God in his explanation: 'Je n'ai pas besoin de cette hypotheses'--I have no need of that hypothesis. --Christoph Cardinal Schonborn
Celestial Mechanics (Mecanique Celeste, 1799-1825)
Philosophical Essay on Probabilities (Theorie analytique des probabilites, 1812)

Johann Wolfgang von GOETHE (1749-1832) Etext: The Online Books Page Criticism: post
Note: a German writer and politician. ... Goethe's influence was dramatic because he understood that there was a transition in European sensibilities, an increasing focus on sense, the indescribable, and the emotional. --Wikipedia
Comment: the man whose influence on his nation has been greater than that of any man since Luther --George Henry Lewes
The Sorrows of Young Werther (Die Leiden des jungen Werther, 1774) Etext: via email
- (Stanley Corngold translation, 2011) Criticism: J. M. Coetzee review
One star: Egmont (1788)
Comment: has little in the way of plot but shows the downfall of a great man as a result of treachery. --Philip Ward
One star: Roman Elegies (Romische Elegien, 1790)
Venetian Epigrams (1790)
Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship (Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, 1796)
One star: Hermann and Dorothea (1797)
Four stars: Faust (1808, 1832) Criticism: David P. Goldman essay
Comment: a genuine myth, i.e., a great primordial image, in which every man has to discover his own being and destiny in his own way. --Jacob Burckhardt
Comment: Faust can be seen as representative man lusting for and yet in flight from individuation. --John Banville
Comment: 'Faust, Part One' is dramatically compelling, and an endless inspiration to the northern imagination. ... 'Part Two' conjures up many of the aging Goethe's most powerful evocations of nature, and above all that generous and sunlit sense of the beauty of the south and of classical landscape and myth which he himself had acquired as he moved from his early Romantic and Germanic preoccupations into his poetic maturity. --Anthony O'Hear
Elective Affinities or Kindred by Choice (Die Wahlverwandtschaften, 1809)
Two stars: Poetry and Truth from My Own Life (Aus Meinem Leben: Dichtung und Wahrheit, 1811-1833)
Comment: One of the most absorbing autobiographies ever written... --Philip Ward
Italian Journey (Italienische Reise, 1817)
One star: West-Eastern Divan (Westostlicher Diwan, 1819)
Comment: deriving its origin from the great Persian poet Hafiz (1320-89), whom he had read in translation in 1814. --Philip Ward
Wilhelm Meister's Years of Wandering (Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre, oder Die Entsagenden, 1821)
Thoughts on Shakespeare (Shakespeare und kein Ende!, 1826)
Reflections and Maxims (Maximen und Reflexionen, 1833)
Conversations with Eckermann (Gesprache mit Goethe, 1836)

Jeremy BENTHAM (1748-1832) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a British philosopher, jurist, and social reformer. He is regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism. --Wikipedia
Comment on the Commentaries (1774-1775)
One star: An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789)
Theory of Legislation (1864; Traits de legislation civile et penale, 1802)
Anarchial Fallacies (in The Works of Jeremy Bentham, 11 Vols. 1838-1843, Vol. 2)
Theory of Fictions (1932)

Johann Heinrich PESTALOZZI (1746-1827) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a Swiss pedagogue and educational reformer who exemplified Romanticism in his approach. --Wikipedia
How Gertrude Teaches Her Children (Wie Gertrud ihre Kinder lehrt, 1801)

Johann Gottfried HERDER (1744-1803) Etext: The Online Books Page Reference: Notable Names Database
Note: a German philosopher, theologian, poet, and literary critic. He is associated with the periods of Enlightenment, Sturm und Drang, and Weimar Classicism. --Wikipedia
Outlines of a Philosophy of the History of Man (Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit, 1784-1791)

Jean Baptiste LAMARCK (1744-1829) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a French naturalist. --Wikipedia
Comment: proposed that the world was not static but changing, with simpler organisms progressing to more complex animals and man at the top of the scale. --Paul Raeburn
Zoological Philosophy (Philosophie Zoologique, 1809)
Comment: This remarkable work in the history of evolution appeared when Cuvier's ideas were dominant and was therefore discredited. Lamarck's doctrines on evoluton represented an immense advance on previous thought... . --J. A. Hammerton

Marquis de CONDORCET (1743-1794) Etext: The Online Books Page Reference: Notable Names Database
Note: a French philosopher, mathematician, and early political scientist ... Unlike many of his contemporaries, he advocated a liberal economy, free and equal public education, constitutionalism, and equal rights for women and people of all races. --Wikipedia Criticism: post
Comment: believed in a malleable human nature and the perfectibility of man, and promoted a historicist vision of the inevitable march of progress. --John Fonte
Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind (Esquisse d'un Tableau Historique des Progres de l'Esprit Humain, 1795)
Comment: This program by Condorcet seem to be the first systematic project, elaborated by a Western totalitarian for the radical destruction of all civilizations of mankind, the high civilizations as well as the less differentiated native civilizations, and for transforming the surface of the globe into the habitat of a standardized mankind that is formed by the ideology of a handful of megalomaniac intellectuals. --Eric Voegelin

Antoine LAVOISIER (1743-1794) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a French nobleman and chemist central to the 18th-century Chemical Revolution and a large influence on both the histories of chemistry and biology. He is widely considered to be the "Father of Modern Chemistry." --Wikipedia
One star: Elementary Treatise on Chemistry (Traite elementaire de chimie, 1789)
Comment: The now fashionable notion that a science is a language, involving a systematic, precise arrangement of terms, was proclaimed in the 18th century by the Abbe de Condillac and Lavoisier. --Peter Wolff

William PALEY (1743-1805) Etext: The Online Books Page Criticism: post
Note: an English Christian apologist, philosopher, and utilitarian. He is best known for his exposition of the teleological argument for the existence of God in his work Natural Theology, which made use of the watchmaker analogy --Wikipedia
Views of the Evidences of Christianity (1794)

Thomas JEFFERSON (1743-1826) Etext: The Online Books Page Reference: Library of Congress | Monticello | The White House Criticism: post
Note: an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the third President of the United States (1801–1809). --Wikipedia
A Summary View of the Rights of British America (1774)
Notes on Virginia (1784) Criticism: John Zvesper review
Letter to Edward Carrington (Jan. 16, 1787)
Letter to James Madison (Jan. 30, 1787)
Letter to George Washington (May 2, 1788)
Letter to Benjamin Rush (Sept. 23, 1800)
First Inaugural Address (March 4, 1801)
Letter to John Adams (Oct. 28, 1813)
Letter to Peter Carr (Sept. 7, 1814)
Letter to Samuel Kercheval (July 12, 1816)

Pierre Choderlos de LACLOS (1741-1803) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a French novelist, official and army general ... A unique case in French literature, he was for a long time considered to be as scandalous a writer as the Marquis de Sade or Nicolas-Edme Retif. --Wikipedia
One star: Dangerous Liaisons (Les Liaisons dangereuses, 1782)
Comment: The strategies that Valmont and Mme de Merteuil suggest for each other in Les Liaisons Dangereuses invoke sex as a game of chess to ward off boredom. --Phillip Lopate

Arthur YOUNG (1741-1820) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: an English writer on agriculture, economics and social statistics. --Wikipedia
Travels in France (1792)

Nicolas CHAMFORT (1740-1794) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a French writer, best known for his witty epigrams and aphorisms --Wikipedia
Products of the Perfected Civilization (selected writings 1969)

James BOSWELL (1740-1795) Etext: The Online Books Page Criticism: John Derbyshire review
Note: a lawyer, diarist, and author born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is best known for the biography he wrote of one of his contemporaries, the English literary figure Samuel Johnson --Wikipedia
One star: Journal of a Tour of the Hebrides (1785)
Three stars: The Life of Samuel Johnson LL.D. (1791)
Comment: The most fascinating of all biographies, and one of universal appeal because its subject shared so deeply almost every aspect of the experience we all share. --Walter Jackson Bate
One star: London Journal 1762-1763 (1950)
Comment: The journals have a 'modern' self-consciousness. They are partly about the writing of themselves and their role in his life. --Claude Rawson
Comment: Disarmingly candid, it charts the keen young Scotsman's attempts to become both a fully-fledged libertine--tumbling whores in St James Park--and a member of the most respected literary salons; sparkling verbatim conversations with Garrick, Goldsmith and, of course, Dr. Johnson. --Raphael and McLeish

Cesare BECCARIA (1738-1794) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: an Italian jurist, philosopher and politician best known for his treatise On Crimes and Punishments (1764), which condemned torture and the death penalty, and was a founding work in the field of penology and the Classical School of criminology --Wikipedia
On Crimes and Punishments (1764)

Edward GIBBON (1737-1794) Etext: The Online Books Page Reference: Wikipedia entry
Note: an English historian and Member of Parliament. --Wikipedia
Five stars: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-88) Criticism: Keith Windschuttle review | Jason Epstein review
Comment: Superseded in almost all details by later research and excavation ... nevertheless remains a masterly synthesis that can be read with profit for its insights and its style. --Philip Ward
Comment: Critics have complained that Gibbon nowhere expressly states exactly why the Roman Empire of the West fell (nor why the tottering Byznatine Empire of the East somehow managed to hang on for another thousand years). --Michael Dirda
One star: Memoirs of His Life or Autobiography (1796)
Comment: among the most appealing autobiographies ever written, even if he never finished it and left various drafts to the care of later editors. --Michael Dirda
Comment: shows him as a truly dedicated cosmopolitan, at home equally in France, Italy and Switzerland and master of classical and Romance languages, with an enthusiasm for science, military and political matters --Philip Ward

Thomas PAINE (1737-1809) Etext: The Online Books Page Criticism: post
Note: an English-American political activist, author, political theorist and revolutionary. --Wikipedia
Comment: [A] better hand at pulling down than building... --John Adams
Common Sense, Addressed to the Inhabitants of America (1776)
Comment: It was a clarion call to the American colonists to fight for their independence--without compromise or vacillation. Revolution was pointed out to them as the only solution of their conflict with Great Britain and George III. --Robert B. Downs
One star: The Rights of Man (1790, 1792) Criticism: John Barrell review
Comment: a reply to Edmund Burke's 'Reflections on the French Revolution'. --Robert B. Downs
The Age of Reason (1794)

Jacques-Henri Bernardin de SAINT-PIERRE (1737-1814) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a French writer and botanist. He is best known for his 1788 novel Paul et Virginie, now forgotten, but in the 19th century a very popular children's book. --Wikipedia
Voyage to the Isle of France (1773)

Nicolas-Edme RETIF (1734-1806) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a French novelist. The term retifism for shoe fetishism was named after him --Wikipedia
Monsieur Nicolas (1794-1797)

UEDA Akinari (1734-1809) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a Japanese author, scholar and waka poet, and a prominent literary figure in 18th century Japan. --Wikipedia
Tales of Rain and the Moon (Ugetsu monogatari, 1776)

Pierre BEAUMARCHAIS (1732-1799) Etext: The Online Books Page Criticism: post
Note: a French playwright, watchmaker, inventor, musician, diplomat, fugitive, spy, publisher, horticulturalist, arms dealer, satirist, financier, and revolutionary (both French and American). --Wikipedia
The Barber of Seville (Le Barbier de Seville, 1775)
Comment: offered a more sophisticated view of the servant or valet as comic hero in the tradition running from Roman comedy to the commedia dell' arte. --Philip Ward
The Marriage of Figaro (Le Mariage de Figaro, 1784)
Comment: a more serious note is struck by anti-aristocratic dialogue and situations. --Philip Ward

George WASHINGTON (1732-1799) Etext: The Online Books Page Reference: Criticism: post
Note: the first President of the United States (1789–1797), the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War... . He presided over the convention that drafted the United States Constitution --Wikipedia
Comment: In London, George III questioned the American-born painter Benjamin West what Washington would do now he had won the war. 'Oh,' said West, 'they say he will return to his farm.' 'If he does that,' said the king, 'he will be the greatest man in the world.' --Paul Johnson
First Annual Message to Congress (January 8, 1790)
Letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport, Rhode Island (1790)
Farewell Address (1796)

William COWPER (1731-1800) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: an English poet and hymnodist. ... In many ways, he was one of the forerunners of Romantic poetry. --Wikipedia
One star: The Task (1785)
One star: The Diverting History of John Gilpin (1785)

Oliver GOLDSMITH (1729-1774) Etext: The Online Books Page Reference: see Washington Irving Life
Note: an Anglo-Irish novelist, playwright and poet --Wikipedia
The Traveller (1764)
The Vicar of Wakefield (1766)
One star: The Deserted Village (1770)
Comment: This narrative poem stresses the advantages of agriculture over industry and trade, lamenting the society in which 'wealth accumulates and men decay'. --Philip Ward
One star: She Stoops to Conquer (1773)
Comment: Perennial stage favorite; classic upstairs-downstairs comedy, with the downstairs characters having rather the better of it. --Raphael and McLeish

Gotthold Ephraim LESSING (1729-1781) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a German writer, philosopher, dramatist, publicist and art critic ... He is widely considered by theatre historians to be the first dramaturg. --Wikipedia
One star: Laocoon: An Essay on the Limits of Painting and Poetry (Laokoon oder Uber die Grenzen der Malerei und Poesie, 1766)
Emilia Galotti (1772)
Comment: a psychological tragedy ... set in a minor 18th-century Italian court. --Philip Ward
Nathan the Wise (Nathan der Weise, 1779)

Edmund BURKE (1729-1797) Etext: The Online Books Page Reference: The Edmund Burke Society Criticism: Brian Doyle essay | post
Note: an Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher, who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party. ... Since the 20th century, he has generally been viewed as the philosophical founder of modern conservatism, as well as a representative of classical liberalism. --Wikipedia
One star: The Sublime and the Beautiful (1756)
Tract on the Popery Laws (c. 1761)
Speech on Arrival at Bristol (October 13, 1774)
Speech to the Electors at Bristol at the Conclusion of the Poll (November 3, 1774)
Comment: according to which a member of Parliament represents the commonweal rather than his constituents. --Peter F. Drucker
American Taxation (1775)
Conciliation with the Colonies (1775)
Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol (1777)
Letters to Gentlemen in Bristol (1778)
Speech on Economical Reforms (February 11, 1780)
Letter to Charles James Fox (October 8, 1787)
Two stars: Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
Letter to a Member of the National Assembly (February 1791)
Letters on a Regicide Peace (1795-1797)

James COOK (1728-1779) Etext: The Online Books Page Reference: Arthur Kitson biography
Note: a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy. ... he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands --Wikipedia
One star: The Journals of Captain James Cook on his Voyages of Discovery (1768-84)

Anne-Robert-Jacques TURGOT (1727-1788, Baron de Laune) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a French economist and statesman. A physiocrat, he is today best remembered as an early advocate for economic liberalism. --Wikipedia
On the Historical Progress of the Human Mind (1749)

James HUTTON (1726-1797) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a Scottish geologist, physician, chemical manufacturer, naturalist, and experimental agriculturalist. He is credited as being the originator of uniformitarianism—one of the fundamental principles of geology—which explains the features of the Earth’s crust by means of natural processes over geologic time. --Wikipedia
Theory of the Earth (1788)

Maurice MORGANN (1726-1802) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: commentator on the character of Sir John Falstaff, born in London in 1726, was descended from an ancient Welsh family --Wikisource
An Essay on the Dramatic Character of Sir John Falstaff (1777)
Comment: provoked the ridicule of Dr. Johnson, who could not take seriously the conclusion that Falstaff was no coward. --P. L. Carver

Giacomo CASANOVA (1725-1798) Etext: The Online Books Page Criticism: post
Note: an Italian adventurer and author from the Republic of Venice. ... often used pseudonyms, the most frequent being Chevalier de Seingalt --Wikipedia
History of My Life (Histoire de ma vie, 1822, 1960)
Note: A previous, bowdlerized version was originally known in English as The Memoirs of Jacques Casanova (from the French Memoires de Jacques Casanova) until the original version was published in 1960. --Wikipedia

Immanuel KANT (1724-1804) Etext: The Online Books Page | University of Adelaide Reference: Friesian School entry Criticism: post
Note: a German philosopher who is widely considered to be a central figure of modern philosophy. He argued that human concepts and categories structure our view of the world and its laws, and that reason is the source of morality. --Wikipedia
Comment: The story is told that his neighbors set their watches by his daily walk; he missed making his regular appearance only on the occasion when he became engrossed in Rousseau's Emile. --Peter Wolff
Lectures on Ethics (1997, in The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant; student notes, 1774-1794) Study: Steve Naragon fan site
Two stars: Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft, 1781) Study: Nick Richter essay | Robert C. Koons lecture 9 | Robert C. Koons lecture 16
Comment: Kant argued that the world as we know it is a mind-created representation, behind which lurks an unknowable realm of 'things in themselves'. --Jim Holt
Comment: The philosopher who, like his medieval precursor Cardinal Nicholas Cusanus, defines and sets limits for human capacities and presents, one may hope, guidelines for ethics and behavior more satisfying than those provided by hubris and wills to power. --Reginald Phelps
Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (Prolegomena zu einer jeden künftigen Metaphysik, 1783)
Comment: In 'Prolegomena' Kant sketches the cool outlines of his magnificent vision--a reconciliation of rationalism and empiricism--as an introduction to his 'Critique of Pure Reason'... . --Raphael and McLeish
Idea of Universal History (Idee zu einer allgemeinen Geschichte in weltbürgerlicher Absicht, 1784)
Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten, 1785)
Comment: It has two windows: one looks out on the Enlightenment and all that's best in modern culture, the other looks back at ancient cultures and their greatest achievement, stoicism. --Orlando Patterson
One star: Critique of Practical Reason (Kritik der praktischen Vernunft, 1788)
Comment: In a startling reversal of the traditional order in these things, he attributes to the practical reason or moral experience a wider range of apprehension than is attainable through the operations of the intellect. The practical reason, according to Kant, provides the speculative reason with basic metaphysical ideas which it cannot reach by itself and which it needs for its own work. --Seymour Cain
The Critique of Judgement (Kritik der Urteilskraft, 1790)
Comment: says what is, in Carey's words, 'patently untrue,' namely that the beautiful may be so called only if the speaker believes that everybody else shares his opinion, and also that standards of beauty are absolute and universal. From the same unreliable source came the notion that art objects must be of no practical use, provoke no emotion and offer no sensuous pleasure. The beautiful can give pleasure only as a symbol of the morally good. Artists whose work satisfies these requirements are called geniuses. --Frank Kermode
On the Saying: That a Thing May be Right in Theory, but may not Hold in Practice (Uber den Gemeinspruch: Das mag in der Theorie richtig sein, taugt aber nicht für die Praxis, 1793)
Perpetual Peace (Zum ewigen Frieden, 1795)
Comment: Kant's moral condemnation of the state of nature and the warfare that results from it is most explicit when he considers not men, but nations, in a state of nature. --Peter Wolff
One star: Doctrine of Right (Metaphysische An­fangs­gründe der Rechtslehre) first part of The Metaphysics of Morals (Die Metaphysik der Sitten, 1797)
Note: Rechtslehre has also been translated as the Science of Right (Hastie) or the Metaphysical Elements of Justice (Ladd). --Wikipedia
Note: You might find Thomas Kingsmill Abbott's English translation dated 1780. --ed.
Comment: Kant is interested in rights insofar as they give rise to laws. --Peter Wolff
Preface and Introduction to The Metaphysical Elements of Ethics (Metaphysische Anfangs­grunde der Tugendlehre) second part of The Metaphysics of Morals (Die Metaphysik der Sitten, 1797)

William BLACKSTONE (1723-1780) Etext: The Online Books Page Criticism: David Womersley review
Note: an English jurist, judge and Tory politician of the eighteenth century --Wikipedia
Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-69)
Comment: covers the entire field of common law as it existed in the eighteenth century, plus innumerable definitions and a vast amount of legal history. --Robert B. Downs

Adam SMITH (1723-1790) Etext: The Online Books Page Criticism: The Pin Factory Blog | post
Note: a Scottish moral philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment --Wikipedia
Comment: Despite the fact, often noted, that the phrase occurs only three times in Smith's writings, the idea of the invisible hand is as central to his argument as it is generally held to be. --Paul Mattick
One star: The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759)
Comment: Smith's broader political views rest on the moral psychology elaborated in his Theory of Moral Sentiments. --Francis Fukuyama
Two stars: The Wealth of Nations (1776)
Comment: probably the most important book that has ever been written, and...certainly the most valuable contribution ever made by a single man towards establishing the principles on which government should be based. --Henry Buckle
Comment: These markets constitute 'the system of natural liberty' because they shatter traditional hierarchies, exclusions, and privileges. --Andreas Kalyvas and Ira Katznelson
Comment: has a philosophical dimension (liberalism), an organizational dimension (the pursuit of self-interest), and a technical dimension (the division of labor). --G. R. Steele
Comment: He maintained the a nation's real wealth is in consumers' goods, instead of gold and silver. He opposed tariffs, export subsidies, and 'favorable balances of trade', favoring, on the contrary, free competition and a free market, as little governmental interference with business as possible, and high wages for workers... --Robert B. Downs

Christopher SMART (1722-1771) Etext: The Online Books Page | Poetry Foundation | Academy of American Poets
Note: an English poet. ... Smart was infamous as the pseudonymous midwife "Mrs. Mary Midnight" and widespread accounts of his father-in-law, John Newbery, locking him away in a mental asylum for many years over Smart's supposed religious "mania". --Wikipedia
A Song to David (1763) Reference: Wikipedia entry
Jubilate Agno (1939)
Note: written between 1759 and 1763, during Smart's confinement for insanity --Wikipedia

William COLLINS (1721-1759) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: an English poet. Second in influence only to Thomas Gray, he was an important poet of the middle decades of the 18th century. --Wikipedia
Poetical works of William Collins (1765)

Tobias SMOLLETT (1721-1771) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a Scottish poet and author. He was best known for his picaresque novels --Wikipedia
The Adventures of Roderick Random (1748)
The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker (1771)
Comment: Humphrey is an ostler--prefiguring Dickens' Sam Weller--attendant on a family journeying through England and Scotland. --Raphael and McLeish

John WOOLMAN (1720-1772) Etext: The Online Books Page | Street Corner Society
Note: a North American merchant, tailor, journalist, and itinerant Quaker preacher, and an early abolitionist in the colonial era. --Wikipedia
One star: The Journal of John Woolman (1774)
Comment: For thirty years the elderly Woolman travelled about the American colonies trying to persuade his fellow Quakers that owning people was wrong. As a direct result the Quakers were the first important group to ban slavery, a fuse that lead to the Civil War and beyond. --Raphael and McLeish

Gilbert WHITE (1720-1793) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a pioneering English naturalist and ornithologist --Wikipedia
One star: The Natural History and Antiquities of Selbourne (1789)
Comment: Diary of a naturalist, records year-by-year changes in the author's curacy at Selbourne, Hampshire, in minute detail down to the first snowdrops of spring and the departure of summer's last swallow. --Raphael and McLeish

Thomas GRAY (1716-1771) Etext: The Online Books Page Criticism: John Mullan review
Note: an English poet, letter-writer, classical scholar and professor at Cambridge University. --Wikipedia
Comment: Gray's lyric gift makes him seem always fresh and crips... Early 18th-century urbanity at its most characteristic--and unhappiest? --Raphael and McLeish
Ode on a Distant Prospect at Eton College (1742)
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (1751)
Ode on a Death of a Favorite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes (1753)

YUAN Mei (1716-1798) Etext: The Online Books Page Reference: Renditions entry
Note: a well-known poet, scholar, artist, and gastronome of the Qing Dynasty. --Wikipedia
Suiyuan shihua

CAO Xueqin (1715 or 1724-1763 or 1764) [Ts'ao Hsueh-ch'in] Etext: The Online Books Page Study: Criticism: post
Note: a Qing Dynasty Chinese writer --Wikipedia
Two stars: The Dream of the Red Chamber (Hung Lou Meng, 1791)
Comment: realistic-allegorical novel of the decline of a great family and its young heir's involvment in the world of passion and depravity. --A Guide to Oriental Classics
Comment: remains by common consent the greatest Chinese novel --William H. McNeill

Laurence STERNE (1713-1768) Etext: The Online Books Page Reference: Masaru Uchida fan site Criticism: Brooke Allen essay
Note: an Anglo-Irish novelist and an Anglican clergyman. ... he also published many sermons, wrote memoirs, and was involved in local politics. --Wikipedia
Comment: [Sterne's works] form the best course of morality that ever was written. --Thomas Jefferson
Two stars: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent. (1759-1767) Criticism: Kenneth Rexroth review
Comment: It is an endlessly digressive autobiography that begins with his conception and barely gets up to his birth. Sterne writes a lovely, leisurely sentence that can wind on for three hundred words and you never lose your way or have to look back. --Thomas C. Schnelling
Two stars: A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy (1768)

Denis DIDEROT (1713-1784) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a French philosopher, art critic, and writer. --Wikipedia
One star: Encyclopedia (Editor 1751-72) Criticism: Anthony Daniels review
'This is not a story' (Ceci n'est pas un conte, 1772)
Comment: (talk about postmodernist!) --Michael Dirda
Memoirs of a Nun (1796)
Comment: treats lesbianism with considerable sympathy... . --Michael Dirda
One star: Jacques the Fatalist and his Master (1796)
Comment: ...Tristram Shandy-like... . --Michael Dirda
One star: Rameau's Nephew (Le neveu de Rameau 1805)
Comment: Rameau's nephew, gifted with some musical talent, though not enough for real accomplishment, has chosen to live as a professional sponge, toady, aand flatterer--all of which he candidly, even blithely, admits. --Michael Dirda

Jean Jacques ROUSSEAU (1712-1778) Etext: The Online Books Page | Liberty Library of Constitutional Classics | The Online Library of Liberty | Rousseau Association Criticism: Mary Ann Glendon essay | Isaiah Berlin lecture audio | post
Note: a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of the 18th-century. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological, and educational thought. He argued that private property was the start of civilization, inequality, murders and wars. --Wikipedia
Comment: one wants to walk on all fours when one reads your work. --Voltaire
Comment: How we get from that original postulation of autonomy, and its intensely private experience of solitude, to sexual intimacy and political community is of course Rousseau's great project. --Leah Bradshaw
Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts (Discours sur les sciences et les arts, 1750)
Comment: It would seem, then, that claiming something as one's own--private property--is the origin of all human misery and (to recall the title of Rousseau's treatise) of all inequality... --Benjamin Wiker
One star: Discourse on Political Economy (De l'economie politique, in Encyclopedia, 1755)
Comment: The insoluble dilemma faced by Rousseau was that only virtuous politicians can create the laws and mores through which a virtuous citizenry could be formed, but that required a superhuman legislator, which Rousseau could only conjure. --Jerry Z. Muller
Comment: by reworking the classical themes of ancient republicanism, Rousseau provided a comprehensive indictment of a society where the pursuit and enjoyment of luxury had replaced a simple life lived according to the dictates of justice. --Jeremy Jennings
One star: Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men (Discours sur l'origine et les fondements de l'inegalite parmi les hommes, 1755)
Comment: Rousseau argued that what made men bad were the institutions of inequality by which society is structured in depth. --Martin Greenberg
Comment: The proper question should rather have been: 'What is the origin of society? And is man by nature social? --Carolina Armenteros
Comment: he concludes that the serpent in the garden was nothing less than Reason. When people lived unmediated existences in accord with Nature and themselves, when they dwelt like animals in a perpetual present, they found life simple, fulfilling, and appropriate. --Michael Dirda
Comment: We would all be infinitely more virtuous, asserted Rousseau, if we were noble and rustic Romans, or even better, noble but entirely uncultured savages. --Benjamin Wiker
A Lasting Peace through the Federation of Europe (Jugement du Projet de paix perpetuelle de Monsieur l'Abbé de Saint-Pierre, 1756)
Two stars: The Social Contract, or Principles of Political Right (Du Contrat Social, 1762)
Comment: This reveals the crucial point in Rousseau's theory: men can be forced to be free.Their enchainment--when it results from a state set up by the social contract--does not lead to slavery but to liberty. For although there are many things that a citizen may be forced to do, nevertheless, if he is forced in a certain way, he remains free. --Peter Wolff
Comment: It is important to realize that the general will is infallible. By definition, the general will is that will which tends to the public good ... . Since the general will is infallible, it can, of course, never be unjust. This explains how men are free, even though they are subject to the laws. --Peter Wolff
Comment: Rousseau tells me that if I freely surrender all the parts of my life to society, I create an entity which, because it has been built by an equality of sacrifice of all its members, cannot wish to hurt any one of them; in such a society, we are informed, it can be in nobody's interest to damage anyone else. --Isaiah Berlin
Comment: Clearly Utilitarian doctrine was conceptually anticipated by Rousseau's distinction between the 'general will'--the decision that is actually conducive to the good of all--and the 'will of all': the decision people think is conducive to that end. --Jeffrey Friedman
Comment: The most powerful attempt to reconcile freedom and authority, self-fulfillment and community. --Stanley Hoffman
Comment: argues what most Americans believe: that that people alone are sovereign, that they possess inalienable rights, and that government exists to carry out the general will. --Michael Dirda
Julie, or the New Heloise (Julie, ou la nouvelle Heloise, 1762)
Comment: the most popular novel of the eighteenth century. --Michael Dirda
One star: Emile: or, on Education (Emile, ou de l'education, 1762)
Comment: a philosophical romance on new methods of education ... teaching by processes of observation rather than by textbook and rote-learning... --Philip Ward
Three stars: Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Les Confessions, 1782)
Comment: Writer, thinker, composer, Rousseau fought with all his friends, was always in a disastrous amorous state, lived a humdrum life with a mistress whose five children went to the foundling hospital. Unrivalled self-portrait of a difficult, distracted genius at loggerheads with everyday life. --Raphael and McLeish
Le Devin du Village (opera, 1752) Etext: audio
Comment: Though he was largely self-taught in composition (as in everything else), his opera Le Devin du Village (The Village Soothsayer, 1752) proved an unexpected success (and is still occasionally staged today). --Michael Dirda

David HUME (1711-1776) Etext: The Online Books Page | University of Adelaide Reference: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy | Shane Drefcinski summary Criticism: post
Note: a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. --Wikipedia
Comment: rigorous thinking in the solitude of his study led him ineluctably to the conclusion that neither he himself nor the physical world could be known to exist. But as soon as he went outside, he cheerfully admitted, he was as convinced of the reality of his walk through the streets of London as anyone else. --Paul Mattick
One star: A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-1740)
Comment: Indeed, it may be fair to say that the whole of modern philosophy is an argument over the first book of his Treatise on Human Nature. --Sean Gabb
One star: Essays Moral and Political (1741-1742)
One star: An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (1748) Study: Robert C. Koons lecture 15
Comment: He does not openly deny the reality of God's existence, perfection, miracles, and providence. He simply questions whether belief in such things can be grounded in human experience and reason. --Seymour Cain
Comment: encapsulates the central doctrines and themes of Hume's radically empiricist philosophy. --Raphael and McLeish
Letter to Gilbert Eliot (March 10, 1751)
An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (1751)
History of England (1754)
Natural History of Religion (1757)
An Abstract of A Treatise of Human Nature (1740) Etext: Wade Robison Criticism: Mark G. Spencer essay
Dialogues concerning Natural Religion (1779) Study: Robert C. Koons lecture 8

Samuel JOHNSON (1709-1784) Etext: The Online Books Page Reference: Jack Lynch guide Criticism: see James Boswell Life | Economist weblog | post
Note: an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. --Wikipedia
Comment: The quintessential Englishman, the epitome of the 'Age of Johnson,' favored lofty abstractions, moralistic content and elaborate Latinate style. --Jeffrey Myers
London (1738)
One star: The Vanity of Human Wishes (1749)
Comment: surveys the disappointments that await each one of us... . --Michael Dirda
Rambler (1750-1753) Etext: 1-54, 55-112, 171-208, Univerity of Virginia
Note: especially numbers 4, 7, 13, 17, 29, 32, 38, 43, 50, 53, 58, 78, 83, 106, 114, 131, 145, 150, 173, 175, 180, and 183 --ed.
Comment: Despite a prose that is sometimes rather florid for modern taste, his 'Rambler' and 'Idler' essays flash with truths we recognize... . --Michael Dirda
Letter to the Earl of Chesterfield (Feb. 7, 1755)
One star: Preface to A Dictionary of the English Language (1755)
One star: Rasselas (1759)
Comment: Rasselas is not contented with his lot. He wants to escape the happy valley and see the outside world. --Anthony Daniels
Idler (1758-1760)
especially numbers 30, 58, and 84
Letter to a Lady (June 8, 1762)
Letter to James Boswell (Dec. 8, 1763)
Preface to Shakespeare (1765)
Comment: The scholarship in this monumental edition is less than one might have expected but the preface and the notes to the various plays are masterly. --Raphael and McLeish
Letter to William Drummond (Aug. 13, 1766)
Tour of the Western Islands of Scotland (1775)
One star: The Lives of the Poets (1779-1781) Reference: Wikipedia entry Criticism: John Mullan essay
Comment: Celebrated studies of 52 poets...from the early 17th century to the late 18th. 18th century prose at its magisterial, grandiloquent best. --Raphael and McLeish
Letter to James Boswell (June 3, 1782)
Letter to James Boswell (Dec. 7, 1782)
Johnsonian Miscellanies, edited by John Birkbeck Hill (1897)
Skye Etext: Crisis (May 2003)

Henry FIELDING (1707-1754) Etext: The Online Books Page Reference: Kevin MacLeod essay
Note: an English novelist and dramatist known for his rich earthy humour and satirical prowess --Wikipedia
One star: Joseph Andrews (1742)
Four stars: Tom Jones (1749)
Comment: Fielding has given us something far more than a picaresque tale of adventures along the road. The adventures carry forward and complicate the plot and theme of the story. The characters that are encountered are connected with the story and contribute to the incidents that take place. --Seymour Cain
Comment: The History of Tom Jones is long for modern taste: lacking in 'development', a gallery of rogues and rips, it demands to be read at a gallop. --Raphael and McLeish

Carl LINNAEUS (1707-1778) Etext: The Online Books Page Criticism: post
Note: also known after his ennoblement as Carl von Linn, was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, who laid the foundations for the modern biological naming scheme of binomial nomenclature. --Wikipedia
System of Nature (Systema Naturae, 1st edition 1735, 10th edition 1758)
Lachesis Lapponica: A Tour in Lapland (1811)

Comte de BUFFON (Georges-Louis Leclerc, 1707-1788) Etext: The Online Books Page Criticism: post
Note: a French naturalist, mathematician, cosmologist, and encyclopedic author. --Wikipedia
Natural History (Histoire naturelle, generale et particuliere, 1749-88)

Carlo GOLDONI (1707-1793) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: an Italian playwright and librettist from the Republic of Venice ... . Goldoni also wrote under the pen name and title "Polisseno Fegeio, Pastor Arcade," --Wikipedia
Comment: began to reform the stock improvisatory commedia dell'arte ... introducing realistic situations, starting to abolish the masks, and providing dialogue suitable to each character. --Philip Ward
The Servant of Two Masters (Il servitore di due padroni, 1745)
Comment: Goldoni is underrated in the English-speaking world (possibly because of scarce, poor translations). He is as funny as Moliere or Beaumarchais; a master of farcical comedy, with a warmth like that of (say) Goldsmith's. --Raphael and McLeish
Mine Hostess (La Locandiera, 1753)
The Boors (I Rusteghi, 1760)
The Fan (Il Ventaglio, 1765)

Benjamin FRANKLIN (1706-1790) Etext: The Online Books Page Reference: M. L. Weems biography Criticism: post
Note: one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat --Wikipedia
Autobiography (Part One 1793, Parts Two and Three 1818, Part Four 1868)
Comment: The quintessential American success story, from rags not only to riches, but also to great political influence and power and an eternal warm spot in the hearts of all his countrymen. --Raphael and McLeish

John WESLEY (1703-1791) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: an Anglican cleric and Christian theologian. Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles Wesley, as founding the Methodist movement which began when he took to open-air preaching in a similar manner to George Whitefield. --Wikipedia
Journal (1735-90)

Jonathan EDWARDS (1703-1758) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a Christian preacher and theologian. Edwards "is widely acknowledged to be America's most important and original philosophical theologian," and one of America's greatest intellectuals. --Wikipedia
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God (1741)
Comment: At one time every high-school student read, with growing terror, the rolling periodic sentences of Jonathan Edward's sermon... . --Michael Dirda

WU Jingzi (1701-1754) [Wu Ching-tse] Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a Chinese scholar and writer --Wikipedia
The Scholars (Rulin Waishi, 1750)
Comment: First, it is the greatest purely satirical novel from China; second, it reveals the weaknesses of Ch'ing society as no factual account of the period possibly could (though allegedly set in Ming times); third, it acts as a masculine equivalent to the feminine 'Dream of the Red Chamber', as it takes place in a milieu almost exclusively populated by men -- the milieu of scholars who have qualified for office by means of the official examination. --Philip Ward

/\ Earlier 18th Century

\/ 1601-1700 | 1751-1800 /\

Revised April 28, 2015.