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Diderot, Denis

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author, Editor.

(1713-1784) French philosopher, editor and author who edited and wrote (with Jean le Rond d'Alembert until 1759) the Encylopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, par une société de gens de lettres ["Encyclopedia: or a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts, by a Company of Men of Letters"] (1751-1772 28vols), an Enlightenment masterpiece. Diderot's insistence on a single alphabet, avowedly destructive of cultural (or generic) hierarchies, and his adventurous use of internal links throughout the vast endeavour, provided a model for the organization and "intendedness" of this encyclopedia: from its inception in the 1970s, this encyclopedia has been anti-canonic, and many of its links exist to suggest patterns of speculation.

In Diderot's first published tale, Les Bijoux Indiscrets (coll of linked stories 1748-1749 2vols; trans W H Kay The Talking Jewels 1965; new trans anon as The Talking Pussy 1968), a magic ring makes it possible for a potentate to free the vaginas of various women to narrate their unrepentant stories, in which men do not always figure heroically (see Feminism). "Supplément au voyage de Bougainville" (written 1777; in Opuscules philosophiques et littéraires, la plupart posthumes ou inédites, anth 1796; trans by Mrs Wilfred Jackson as "A Supplement to Bougainville's 'Voyage'" in Rameau's Nephew and Other Works, coll 1926) prefigures much Anthropological sf in its debate on Natural Man presented through a Tahitian's response to a stopover there by Louis Antoine de Bougainville (1729-1811) during his trip round the world, to his account of which Diderot's Supplément is written in the form of an addendum. [JC/DRL]

see also: France.

Denis Diderot

born Langres, France: 5 October 1713

died Paris: 31 July 1784

works (highly selected)

  • Les Bijoux Indiscrets (au Monomotapa [ie Paris]: no publisher given, 1748-1749) [coll of linked stories: published in two volumes: binding unknown/]
    • The Talking Jewels (Los Angeles, Collectors Publications, 1965) [trans of the above by W H Kay: pb/]
    • The Talking Pussy (Los Angeles, Collectors Publications, 1968) [vt of the above: pb/nonpictorial]
  • "Supplément au voyage de Bougainville" in Opuscules philosophiques et littéraires, la plupart posthumes ou inédites ["Philosophical and Literary Pamphlets, Most Posthumous or Unpublished"] (Paris: Chevet, 1796) [anth: edited by Jean Baptiste Antoine Suard and Simon-Jérôme Bourlet de Vauxcelles: binding unknown/]
  • Rameau's Nephew and Other Works (London: Chapman and Hall, 1926) [coll: trans by Mrs Wilfred Jackson: introduction by Compton Mackenzie: includes trans of the above as "A Supplement to Bougainville's 'Voyage'": hb/]


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