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The great 18th-century French enterprise, the Encyclopédie was designed as a synoptic description of the branches of human knowledge. The leading figures behind the enterprise were Diderot and d'Alembert, and contributors included Holbach, Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Voltaire, sometimes known collectively as the encyclopedists. The work is a bible of the Enlightenment, philosophically very much in the tradition of Locke and Bayle. Its anti-clerical, humanistic tone led to its temporary suppression by royal decree in 1759, but publication continued from 1751 to 1777. It required the collaboration of 140 contributors, with nearly the same number of writers and engravers. Eventually the 32 volumes included 21 volumes of text, containing 70,000 articles, and 11 volumes of plates. The work was reprinted five times before 1789.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05418a.htm An article on the Encyclopédie and its influence

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/inourtime/inourtime_20061026.shtml An audio discussion of the Encyclopédie by three experts

Subjects: Literature.

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Denis Diderot (1713—1784) French philosopher, writer, and critic

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