The Enlightenment: A Comparative Social History, 1721-1794
1 Jan 2003
What did the Enlightenment mean for people who were not intellectuals or members of a wealthy elite? In this incisive new book, Thomas Munck shows the profound impact of Enlightenment ideas on a broad range of social groups. Moving beyond traditional treatments, which tend to focus on leading individuals and salon culture, Munck demonstrates that the Enlightenment can be fruitfully studied from the vantage point of ordinary people. He focuses on Paris, London, and Hamburg, but draws comparisons across much of Europe. The book begins with Montesquieu's Persian Letters in 1721 and ends with the changing direction of the French Revolution in 1794, and with a reassessment of enlightened absolutism in the light of changing relationships between state and citizen. It will be an invaluable text for courses on the Enlightenment and provides a valuable new perspective for anyone studying eighteenth-century Europe or the history of ideas.