Sentimental Savants: Philosophical Families in Enlightenment France. By Meghan K. Roberts.

Sentimental Savants: Philosophical Families in Enlightenment France. By Meghan K. Roberts. REVIEWS 117 and post-revolutionary France, or more generally in the history of human creativity in the context of ever-varying and ever-challenging institutional frameworks. BENJAMIN BACLE doi:10.1093/fs/knx280 UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016.vþ 214 pp., ill. This is a short and elegantly presented book in five chapters (‘Men of Letters, Men of Feeling’;‘WorkingTogether’;‘Love,Proof and Smallpox Inoculation’; ‘Enlightening Children’; ‘Organic Enlightenment’), which deals with the importance of emotion and inti- macy in shaping the work and public attitudes of Enlightenment thinkers. The cover shows a close-up of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and his wife Marie-Anne-Pierrette Paulze in the dou- ble portrait by Jacques-Louis David, whose (talented) student she was. The choice is not gra- tuitous: the Lavoisiers provide one of the case studies in the volume and two of her drawings used as the basis of engravings in her husband’s Trait´e e ´l´m e entaire de chimie are reproduced. We are told that ‘Antoine and Marie-Anne’ — she is alternatively called ‘Marie’ or ‘Marie- Anne’ in the space of three lines — ‘became a celebrated model of companionate marriage’ (p. 35). There is a certain sentimental naivety to being on first-name terms with one’s subject; there is no legitimate reason to adopt ‘Antoine’ and ‘Marie-Anne’ (particularly since they may have been known as ‘Laurent’ and ‘Pierrette’: one’s usual name was often the last one, as for Gabrielle-Emilie Du Chaˆtelet), or ‘Jacques’ and ‘Suzanne’ for the Neckers. There are other instances of lack of coherence, such as inexplicable onomastic variations in Mme Helve´tius’s maiden name (Anne-Catherine de Ligneville’s ‘de’ often disappears). This may be a failure in proofreading — there are errors also in transcription, as when the duc de Villequier becomes ‘Villequire’ (p. 76) in a well-known quote by Voltaire, or the famous inoculator Hosty ‘Hosly’ (p. 85). Greater attention could have been paid to the presentation, for example when two paragraphs on p. 91 begin with the words ‘Experimenting on children remained a different story’ and ‘Experimenting on one’s own children served a different epistemological purpose’ respectively. There are other similar occurrences, such as the opening and closing of a paragraph which state that after Lavoisier’s death his widow ‘did not stop living her life’ or ‘lived a full life’ (p. 52). In terms of content, too, the text would have been improved had repetitions been avoided (for example, the references to Cotton Mather and Onesimus). Some of the information is at best misleading. The opening sentence of Chapter 1 re- fers to Suzanne Dupin de Francueil as a ‘horrified reader’ who heard that Rousseau had abandoned his children. The Dupins were rather closer to the author than the passing in- dication suggests. Nobody who has worked on the personal papers of Enlightenment sa- vants and their families will question the fact that their private lives were often interwoven with their research and professional interests. Indeed, many apposite examples might come to mind to support Meghan Roberts’s case. The book, as it stands (and there is no bibliography), reads like an intelligent but myopic compilation and discussion of quota- tions based on keyword searches and the re-examination of sources other academics have already located, rather than presenting groundbreaking research. It shows potential, but one could have hoped for so much more. CATRIONA SETH doi:10.1093/fs/knx260 ALL SOULS COLLEGE,OXFORD Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/fs/article-abstract/72/1/117/4732366 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 16 March 2018 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png French Studies Oxford University Press

Sentimental Savants: Philosophical Families in Enlightenment France. By Meghan K. Roberts.

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Oxford University Press
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© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for French Studies. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com
ISSN
0016-1128
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1468-2931
D.O.I.
10.1093/fs/knx260
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Abstract

REVIEWS 117 and post-revolutionary France, or more generally in the history of human creativity in the context of ever-varying and ever-challenging institutional frameworks. BENJAMIN BACLE doi:10.1093/fs/knx280 UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016.vþ 214 pp., ill. This is a short and elegantly presented book in five chapters (‘Men of Letters, Men of Feeling’;‘WorkingTogether’;‘Love,Proof and Smallpox Inoculation’; ‘Enlightening Children’; ‘Organic Enlightenment’), which deals with the importance of emotion and inti- macy in shaping the work and public attitudes of Enlightenment thinkers. The cover shows a close-up of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and his wife Marie-Anne-Pierrette Paulze in the dou- ble portrait by Jacques-Louis David, whose (talented) student she was. The choice is not gra- tuitous: the Lavoisiers provide one of the case studies in the volume and two of her drawings used as the basis of engravings in her husband’s Trait´e e ´l´m e entaire de chimie are reproduced. We are told that ‘Antoine and Marie-Anne’ — she is alternatively called ‘Marie’ or ‘Marie- Anne’ in the space of three lines — ‘became a celebrated model of companionate marriage’ (p. 35). There is a certain sentimental naivety to being on first-name terms with one’s subject; there is no legitimate reason to adopt ‘Antoine’ and ‘Marie-Anne’ (particularly since they may have been known as ‘Laurent’ and ‘Pierrette’: one’s usual name was often the last one, as for Gabrielle-Emilie Du Chaˆtelet), or ‘Jacques’ and ‘Suzanne’ for the Neckers. There are other instances of lack of coherence, such as inexplicable onomastic variations in Mme Helve´tius’s maiden name (Anne-Catherine de Ligneville’s ‘de’ often disappears). This may be a failure in proofreading — there are errors also in transcription, as when the duc de Villequier becomes ‘Villequire’ (p. 76) in a well-known quote by Voltaire, or the famous inoculator Hosty ‘Hosly’ (p. 85). Greater attention could have been paid to the presentation, for example when two paragraphs on p. 91 begin with the words ‘Experimenting on children remained a different story’ and ‘Experimenting on one’s own children served a different epistemological purpose’ respectively. There are other similar occurrences, such as the opening and closing of a paragraph which state that after Lavoisier’s death his widow ‘did not stop living her life’ or ‘lived a full life’ (p. 52). In terms of content, too, the text would have been improved had repetitions been avoided (for example, the references to Cotton Mather and Onesimus). Some of the information is at best misleading. The opening sentence of Chapter 1 re- fers to Suzanne Dupin de Francueil as a ‘horrified reader’ who heard that Rousseau had abandoned his children. The Dupins were rather closer to the author than the passing in- dication suggests. Nobody who has worked on the personal papers of Enlightenment sa- vants and their families will question the fact that their private lives were often interwoven with their research and professional interests. Indeed, many apposite examples might come to mind to support Meghan Roberts’s case. The book, as it stands (and there is no bibliography), reads like an intelligent but myopic compilation and discussion of quota- tions based on keyword searches and the re-examination of sources other academics have already located, rather than presenting groundbreaking research. It shows potential, but one could have hoped for so much more. CATRIONA SETH doi:10.1093/fs/knx260 ALL SOULS COLLEGE,OXFORD Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/fs/article-abstract/72/1/117/4732366 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 16 March 2018

Journal

French StudiesOxford University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2018

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