In the eighteenth century, the publication of scientific books boomed following the switch to the vernacular. The decline of Latin and Greek, the availability of translations, and the adoption of novel ways of presenting scientific information increased the population of potential audiences during this period. This chapter explores some of the Jesuit Latin poems on scientific subjects before the transition to vernacular. It aims to determine the extent to which the Jesuits anticipated and participated in the vulgarizing mission of textbooks writers later in the century. In general, Jesuits were regarded as scientific educators owing to their contributions to the growing interest in science. During the eighteenth century, the trend was for the production of the facile side of science and illustrated books; however, French Jesuits did not adhere to the growing trend. Although they curbed their poetic powers on playful and topical objects like the secular science writers, their poems and works were devoid of instructive or diverting diagrams and pictures. They also capitalized on poems that were written in Latin at a time when the language rarely attracted noble and bourgeois readers, and in a genre that could be hardly described as novel.
Keywords: eighteenth century; scientific books; vernacular; Jesuit Latin poems; scientific educators; science; illustrated books; French Jesuits; secular science writers
Chapter. 27787 words. Illustrated.
Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
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