- What to read, 1701-1750
- \/ 1601-1700 | 1751-1800 /\
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- 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) The Online Books Page
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
- Memoirs of Mirabeau: biographical, literary, and political (1835-36)
Those parts ... that are by Mirabeau himself consist mainly in extracts from letters and speeches.
--J. A. Hammerton
- Vittorio ALFIERI (1749-1803) The Online Books Page
an Italian dramatist and poet, considered the "founder of Italian tragedy."
- Saul (1782)
- Edward JENNER (1749-1823) The Online Books Page
an English physician and scientist ... He is often called "the father of immunology"
- An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolae Vaccinae (1798)
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) The Online Books Page
a French mathematician and astronomer whose work was pivotal to the development of mathematical astronomy and statistics
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) The Online Books Page post
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.
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) via email
- - (Stanley Corngold translation, 2011) J. M. Coetzee review
- Egmont (1788)
has little in the way of plot but shows the downfall of a great man as a result of treachery.
- Roman Elegies (Romische Elegien, 1790)
- Venetian Epigrams (1790)
- Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship (Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, 1796)
- Hermann and Dorothea (1797)
- Faust (1808, 1832) David P. Goldman essay
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.
Faust can be seen as representative man lusting for and yet in flight from individuation.
'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.
- Elective Affinities or Kindred by Choice (Die Wahlverwandtschaften, 1809)
- Poetry and Truth from My Own Life (Aus Meinem Leben: Dichtung und Wahrheit, 1811-1833)
One of the most absorbing autobiographies ever written...
- Italian Journey (Italienische Reise, 1817)
- West-Eastern Divan (Westostlicher Diwan, 1819)
deriving its origin from the great Persian poet Hafiz (1320-89), whom he had read in translation in 1814.
- 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) The Online Books Page
a British philosopher, jurist, and social reformer. He is regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism.
- Comment on the Commentaries (1774-1775)
- 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) The Online Books Page
a Swiss pedagogue and educational reformer who exemplified Romanticism in his approach.
- How Gertrude Teaches Her Children (Wie Gertrud ihre Kinder lehrt, 1801)
- Johann Gottfried HERDER (1744-1803) The Online Books Page Notable Names Database
a German philosopher, theologian, poet, and literary critic. He is associated with the periods of Enlightenment, Sturm und Drang, and Weimar Classicism.
- Outlines of a Philosophy of the History of Man (Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit, 1784-1791)
- Jean Baptiste LAMARCK (1744-1829) The Online Books Page
a French naturalist.
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.
- Zoological Philosophy (Philosophie Zoologique, 1809)
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) The Online Books Page Notable Names Database
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.
believed in a malleable human nature and the perfectibility of man, and promoted a historicist vision of the inevitable march of progress.
- Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind (Esquisse d'un Tableau Historique des Progres de l'Esprit Humain, 1795)
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.
- Antoine LAVOISIER (1743-1794) The Online Books Page
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."
- Elementary Treatise on Chemistry (Traite elementaire de chimie, 1789)
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.
- William PALEY (1743-1805) The Online Books Page post
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
- Views of the Evidences of Christianity (1794)
- Thomas JEFFERSON (1743-1826) The Online Books Page Library of Congress | Monticello | The White House post
an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the third President of the United States (1801–1809).
- A Summary View of the Rights of British America (1774)
- Notes on Virginia (1784) 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) The Online Books Page
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.
- Dangerous Liaisons (Les Liaisons dangereuses, 1782)
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.
- Arthur YOUNG (1741-1820) The Online Books Page
an English writer on agriculture, economics and social statistics.
- Travels in France (1792)
- Nicolas CHAMFORT (1740-1794) The Online Books Page
a French writer, best known for his witty epigrams and aphorisms
- Products of the Perfected Civilization (selected writings 1969)
- James BOSWELL (1740-1795) The Online Books Page John Derbyshire review
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
- Journal of a Tour of the Hebrides (1785)
- The Life of Samuel Johnson LL.D. (1791)
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
- London Journal 1762-1763 (1950)
The journals have a 'modern' self-consciousness. They are partly about the writing of themselves and their role in his life.
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) The Online Books Page
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
- On Crimes and Punishments (1764)
- Edward GIBBON (1737-1794) The Online Books Page Wikipedia entry
an English historian and Member of Parliament.
- The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-88) Keith Windschuttle review | Jason Epstein review
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.
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).
- Memoirs of His Life or Autobiography (1796)
among the most appealing autobiographies ever written, even if he never finished it and left various drafts to the care of later editors.
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
- Thomas PAINE (1737-1809) The Online Books Page post
an English-American political activist, author, political theorist and revolutionary.
[A] better hand at pulling down than building...
- Common Sense, Addressed to the Inhabitants of America (1776)
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
- The Rights of Man (1790, 1792) John Barrell review
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) The Online Books Page
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.
- Voyage to the Isle of France (1773)
- Nicolas-Edme RETIF (1734-1806) The Online Books Page
a French novelist. The term retifism for shoe fetishism was named after him
- Monsieur Nicolas (1794-1797)
- UEDA Akinari (1734-1809) The Online Books Page
a Japanese author, scholar and waka poet, and a prominent literary figure in 18th century Japan.
- Tales of Rain and the Moon (Ugetsu monogatari, 1776)
- Pierre BEAUMARCHAIS (1732-1799) The Online Books Page post
a French playwright, watchmaker, inventor, musician, diplomat, fugitive, spy, publisher, horticulturalist, arms dealer, satirist, financier, and revolutionary (both French and American).
- The Barber of Seville (Le Barbier de Seville, 1775)
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.
- The Marriage of Figaro (Le Mariage de Figaro, 1784)
a more serious note is struck by anti-aristocratic dialogue and situations.
- George WASHINGTON (1732-1799) The Online Books Page post
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
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.'
- 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) The Online Books Page
an English poet and hymnodist. ... In many ways, he was one of the forerunners of Romantic poetry.
- The Task (1785)
- The Diverting History of John Gilpin (1785)
- Oliver GOLDSMITH (1729-1774) The Online Books Page see Washington Irving Life
an Anglo-Irish novelist, playwright and poet
- The Traveller (1764)
- The Vicar of Wakefield (1766)
- The Deserted Village (1770)
This narrative poem stresses the advantages of agriculture over industry and trade, lamenting the society in which 'wealth accumulates and men decay'.
- She Stoops to Conquer (1773)
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) The Online Books Page
a German writer, philosopher, dramatist, publicist and art critic ... He is widely considered by theatre historians to be the first dramaturg.
- Laocoon: An Essay on the Limits of Painting and Poetry (Laokoon oder Uber die Grenzen der Malerei und Poesie, 1766)
- Emilia Galotti (1772)
a psychological tragedy ... set in a minor 18th-century Italian court.
- Nathan the Wise (Nathan der Weise, 1779)
- Edmund BURKE (1729-1797) The Online Books Page The Edmund Burke Society Brian Doyle essay | post
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.
- 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)
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)
- 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) The Online Books Page Arthur Kitson biography
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
- The Journals of Captain James Cook on his Voyages of Discovery (1768-84)
- Anne-Robert-Jacques TURGOT (1727-1788, Baron de Laune) The Online Books Page
a French economist and statesman. A physiocrat, he is today best remembered as an early advocate for economic liberalism.
- On the Historical Progress of the Human Mind (1749)
- James HUTTON (1726-1797) The Online Books Page
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.
- Theory of the Earth (1788)
- Maurice MORGANN (1726-1802) The Online Books Page
commentator on the character of Sir John Falstaff, born in London in 1726, was descended from an ancient Welsh family
- An Essay on the Dramatic Character of Sir John Falstaff (1777)
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) The Online Books Page post
an Italian adventurer and author from the Republic of Venice. ... often used pseudonyms, the most frequent being Chevalier de Seingalt
- History of My Life (Histoire de ma vie, 1822, 1960)
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.
- Immanuel KANT (1724-1804) The Online Books Page | University of Adelaide Friesian School entry post
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.
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.
- Lectures on Ethics (1997, in The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant; student notes, 1774-1794) Steve Naragon fan site
- Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft, 1781) Nick Richter essay | Robert C. Koons lecture 9 | Robert C. Koons lecture 16
Kant argued that the world as we know it is a mind-created representation, behind which lurks an unknowable realm of 'things in themselves'.
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.
- Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (Prolegomena zu einer jeden künftigen Metaphysik, 1783)
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)
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.
- Critique of Practical Reason (Kritik der praktischen Vernunft, 1788)
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.
- The Critique of Judgement (Kritik der Urteilskraft, 1790)
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.
- 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)
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.
- Doctrine of Right (Metaphysische Anfangsgründe der Rechtslehre) first part of The Metaphysics of Morals (Die Metaphysik der Sitten, 1797)
Rechtslehre has also been translated as the Science of Right (Hastie) or the Metaphysical Elements of Justice (Ladd).
You might find Thomas Kingsmill Abbott's English translation dated 1780.
Kant is interested in rights insofar as they give rise to laws.
- 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) The Online Books Page David Womersley review
an English jurist, judge and Tory politician of the eighteenth century
- Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-69)
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) The Online Books Page The Pin Factory Blog | post
a Scottish moral philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment
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.
- The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759)
Smith's broader political views rest on the moral psychology elaborated in his Theory of Moral Sentiments.
- The Wealth of Nations (1776)
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.
These markets constitute 'the system of natural liberty' because they shatter traditional hierarchies, exclusions, and privileges.
--Andreas Kalyvas and Ira Katznelson
has a philosophical dimension (liberalism), an organizational dimension (the pursuit of self-interest), and a technical dimension (the division of labor).
--G. R. Steele
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) The Online Books Page | Poetry Foundation | Academy of American Poets
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".
- A Song to David (1763) Wikipedia entry
- Jubilate Agno (1939)
written between 1759 and 1763, during Smart's confinement for insanity
- William COLLINS (1721-1759) The Online Books Page
an English poet. Second in influence only to Thomas Gray, he was an important poet of the middle decades of the 18th century.
- Poetical works of William Collins (1765)
- Tobias SMOLLETT (1721-1771) The Online Books Page
a Scottish poet and author. He was best known for his picaresque novels
- The Adventures of Roderick Random (1748)
- The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker (1771)
Humphrey is an ostler--prefiguring Dickens' Sam Weller--attendant on a family journeying through England and Scotland.
--Raphael and McLeish
- John WOOLMAN (1720-1772) The Online Books Page | Street Corner Society
a North American merchant, tailor, journalist, and itinerant Quaker preacher, and an early abolitionist in the colonial era.
- The Journal of John Woolman (1774)
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) The Online Books Page
a pioneering English naturalist and ornithologist
- The Natural History and Antiquities of Selbourne (1789)
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) The Online Books Page John Mullan review
an English poet, letter-writer, classical scholar and professor at Cambridge University.
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) The Online Books Page Renditions entry
a well-known poet, scholar, artist, and gastronome of the Qing Dynasty.
- Suiyuan shihua
- CAO Xueqin (1715 or 1724-1763 or 1764) [Ts'ao Hsueh-ch'in] The Online Books Page post
a Qing Dynasty Chinese writer
- The Dream of the Red Chamber (Hung Lou Meng, 1791)
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
remains by common consent the greatest Chinese novel
--William H. McNeill
- Laurence STERNE (1713-1768) The Online Books Page Masaru Uchida fan site Brooke Allen essay
an Anglo-Irish novelist and an Anglican clergyman. ... he also published many sermons, wrote memoirs, and was involved in local politics.
[Sterne's works] form the best course of morality that ever was written.
- The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent. (1759-1767) Kenneth Rexroth review
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
- A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy (1768)
- Denis DIDEROT (1713-1784) The Online Books Page
a French philosopher, art critic, and writer.
- Encyclopedia (Editor 1751-72) Anthony Daniels review
- 'This is not a story' (Ceci n'est pas un conte, 1772)
(talk about postmodernist!)
- Memoirs of a Nun (1796)
treats lesbianism with considerable sympathy... .
- Jacques the Fatalist and his Master (1796)
...Tristram Shandy-like... .
- Rameau's Nephew (Le neveu de Rameau 1805)
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.
- Jean Jacques ROUSSEAU (1712-1778) The Online Books Page | Liberty Library of Constitutional Classics | The Online Library of Liberty | Rousseau Association Mary Ann Glendon essay | Isaiah Berlin lecture audio | post
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.
one wants to walk on all fours when one reads your work.
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.
- Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts (Discours sur les sciences et les arts, 1750)
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...
- Discourse on Political Economy (De l'economie politique, in Encyclopedia, 1755)
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
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.
- Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men (Discours sur l'origine et les fondements de l'inegalite parmi les hommes, 1755)
Rousseau argued that what made men bad were the institutions of inequality by which society is structured in depth.
The proper question should rather have been: 'What is the origin of society? And is man by nature social?
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.
We would all be infinitely more virtuous, asserted Rousseau, if we were noble and rustic Romans, or even better, noble but entirely uncultured savages.
- A Lasting Peace through the Federation of Europe (Jugement du Projet de paix perpetuelle de Monsieur l'Abbé de Saint-Pierre, 1756)
- The Social Contract, or Principles of Political Right (Du Contrat Social, 1762)
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.
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.
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.
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.
The most powerful attempt to reconcile freedom and authority, self-fulfillment and community.
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.
- Julie, or the New Heloise (Julie, ou la nouvelle Heloise, 1762)
the most popular novel of the eighteenth century.
- Emile: or, on Education (Emile, ou de l'education, 1762)
a philosophical romance on new methods of education ... teaching by processes of observation rather than by textbook and rote-learning...
- Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Les Confessions, 1782)
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) audio
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).
- David HUME (1711-1776) The Online Books Page | University of Adelaide Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy | Shane Drefcinski summary post
a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism.
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.
- A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-1740)
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.
- Essays Moral and Political (1741-1742)
- An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (1748) Robert C. Koons lecture 15
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.
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) Wade Robison Mark G. Spencer essay
- Dialogues concerning Natural Religion (1779) Robert C. Koons lecture 8
- Samuel JOHNSON (1709-1784) The Online Books Page Jack Lynch guide see James Boswell Life | Economist weblog | post
an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer.
The quintessential Englishman, the epitome of the 'Age of Johnson,' favored lofty abstractions, moralistic content and elaborate Latinate style.
- London (1738)
- The Vanity of Human Wishes (1749)
surveys the disappointments that await each one of us... .
- Rambler (1750-1753) 1-54, 55-112, 171-208, Univerity of Virginia
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
Despite a prose that is sometimes rather florid for modern taste, his 'Rambler' and 'Idler' essays flash with truths we recognize... .
- Letter to the Earl of Chesterfield (Feb. 7, 1755)
- Preface to A Dictionary of the English Language (1755)
- Rasselas (1759)
Rasselas is not contented with his lot. He wants to escape the happy valley and see the outside world.
- 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)
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)
- The Lives of the Poets (1779-1781) Wikipedia entry John Mullan essay
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 Crisis (May 2003)
- Henry FIELDING (1707-1754) The Online Books Page Kevin MacLeod essay
an English novelist and dramatist known for his rich earthy humour and satirical prowess
- Joseph Andrews (1742)
- Tom Jones (1749)
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.
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) The Online Books Page post
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.
- 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) The Online Books Page post
a French naturalist, mathematician, cosmologist, and encyclopedic author.
- Natural History (Histoire naturelle, generale et particuliere, 1749-88)
- Carlo GOLDONI (1707-1793) The Online Books Page
an Italian playwright and librettist from the Republic of Venice ... . Goldoni also wrote under the pen name and title "Polisseno Fegeio, Pastor Arcade,"
began to reform the stock improvisatory commedia dell'arte ... introducing realistic situations, starting to abolish the masks, and providing dialogue suitable to each character.
- The Servant of Two Masters (Il servitore di due padroni, 1745)
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) The Online Books Page M. L. Weems biography post
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
- Autobiography (Part One 1793, Parts Two and Three 1818, Part Four 1868)
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) The Online Books Page
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.
- Journal (1735-90)
- Jonathan EDWARDS (1703-1758) The Online Books Page
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.
- Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God (1741)
At one time every high-school student read, with growing terror, the rolling periodic sentences of Jonathan Edward's sermon... .
- WU Jingzi (1701-1754) [Wu Ching-tse] The Online Books Page
a Chinese scholar and writer
- The Scholars (Rulin Waishi, 1750)
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.
- /\ Earlier 18th Century
- \/ 1601-1700 | 1751-1800 /\
Revised April 28, 2015.