Ts&Cs
apply
The Unfinished Enlightenment: Description in the Age of the Encyclopedia (Hardback)
  • The Unfinished Enlightenment: Description in the Age of the Encyclopedia (Hardback)
zoom

The Unfinished Enlightenment: Description in the Age of the Encyclopedia (Hardback)

(author)
£49.00
Hardback 256 Pages / Published: 15/05/2010
  • In stock
  • Free UK delivery

Usually dispatched within 48 hours

  • This item has been added to your basket
Your local Waterstones may have stock of this item. Please check by using Click & Collect

In The Unfinished Enlightenment, Joanna Stalnaker offers a fresh look at the French Enlightenment by focusing on the era's vast, collective attempt to compile an ongoing and provisional description of the world. Through a series of readings of natural histories, encyclopedias, scientific poetry, and urban topographies, the book uncovers the deep epistemological and literary tensions that made description a central preoccupation for authors such as Buffon, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Diderot, Delille, and Mercier.

Stalnaker argues that Enlightenment description was the site of competing truth claims that would eventually resolve themselves in the modern polarity between literature and science. By the mid-nineteenth century, the now habitual association between description and the novel was already firmly anchored in French culture, but just a century earlier, in the diverse network of articles on description in Diderot and d'Alembert's Encyclopedie and in the works derived from it, there was not a single mention of the novel. Instead, we find articles on description in natural history, geometry, belles-lettres, and poetry. Stalnaker builds on the premise that the tendency to view description as the inevitable (and subservient) partner of narration-rather than as a universal tool for making sense of knowledge in all fields-has obscured the central place of description in Enlightenment discourse. As a result, we have neglected some of the most original and experimental works of the eighteenth century.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801448645
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 28 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 25 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"The Unfinished Enlightenment is a rare example of genuine interdisciplinary work. Joanna Stalnaker's focus on the theory and practice of description in late eighteenth-century France allows her first to illuminate in a highly original way the rhetorical and poetic dimensions of natural scientific discourse in the period. At the same time, she emphasizes the very important role natural philosophy and encyclopedic epistemologies played in the formation of a modern literary descriptive tradition. Literary historians and intellectual historians alike will be forced to rethink their understanding of the period after reading this book. The Unfinished Enlightenment is also exceptionally well written: consistently clear, elegantly expressed, nicely paced, and penetrating in its analysis." -- David Bates, University of California, Berkeley
"In this beautifully organized and fascinating book, Joanna Stalnaker takes on the pronouncement by Emile Zola that detailed, objectively framed, 'scientific' description in the novel was a distinctly 'modern' phenomenon employed only since the mid-nineteenth-century work of Flaubert and Balzac. The Unfinished Enlightenment is a pleasure to read-clearly written, with an impressive combination of persuasive larger arguments fortified by compelling close readings-and will be valuable to all literary and cultural critics and historians of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries." -- Cynthia Wall, University of Virginia

You may also be interested in...

The Rover
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback
Gulliver's Travels
Added to basket
King Lear
Added to basket
£7.99
Paperback
How to Live
Added to basket
£10.99
Paperback
Robert Burns
Added to basket
£12.00
Hardback
Metaphysical Poetry
Added to basket
'Tis Pity She's a Whore and Other Plays
Added to basket
The Duchess of Malfi and Other Plays
Added to basket
The Shakespeare Book
Added to basket
DK
£19.99
Hardback
Shakespeare's Restless World
Added to basket
John Donne - The Major Works
Added to basket
Robinson Crusoe
Added to basket
£6.99
Paperback
Selected Poetry
Added to basket
£6.99
Paperback
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Added to basket
Doctor Faustus and Other Plays
Added to basket

Please sign in to write a review

Your review has been submitted successfully.