L'Encyclopedie

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Dates: 1752 1759 1804

Region: Europe

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion Religious

Medium: Literature


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Artist: Denis Diderot (1713-1784)

Confronting Bodies: the King's Council, Le Breton; The Roman Catholic Church

Dates of Action: 1752, 1759, 1804

Location: France, Italy

Description of Artwork: L'Encyclopedie, 1751-1780: French translation of Ephraim Chamber's Cyclopedia. Diderot undertook the task with mathematician Jean Le Rond d'Alembert as co-editor and profoundly changed the nature of the publication, broadening the scope and turning it into an important organ of radical and revolutionary opinion. The Encyclopedia was to bring out the essential principles and applications of every art and sciences.

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The Incident: 1752, France: The first two volumes were suppressed by the King's Council for political and religious outspokenness.

Results of Incident: 1754, France: Louis XV issued a privilege for the continuation of the work. 1759: Although innocent of treason, this work was looked upon with suspicion and alarm in official circles. Consequently, the royal privilege was withdrawn. The work, however, was continued surreptitiously by the publisher, Le Breton. For a century and a half, scholars despaired of recovering Diderot's original text, for the manuscript had been destroyed as the matter was set in type, but about 200 years later a volume containing Le Breton¹s corrections of the proof turned up and was acquired by an American collector.

1759 Rome, Italy: The first seven volumes were condemned by the Index.

1804 Rome, Italy: The complete work was placed on the Index.

Source: Banned Books 387 B.C. to 1978 A.D., by Anne Lyon Haight, and Chandler B. Grannis, R.R. Bowker Co, 1978.