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To kill a cat

Anthony Pagden

21 February 1985
Settecento Riformatore. Vol. IV: La Caduta dell’Antico Regime 1776-1789. Part One: I Grandi Staii dell’Occidente 
by Franco Venturi.
Einaudi, 463 pp., lire 45,000, July 1984, 88 06 05695 6
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Settecento Riformatore. Vol. IV: La Caduta dell’Antico Regime 1776-1789. Part Two: II Patriotismo Repubblicano e gli Imperi dell’Est 
by Franco Venturi.
Einaudi, 1040 pp., lire 55,000, July 1984, 88 06 05696 4
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The Great Cat Massacre, and Other Episodes in French Cultural History 
by Robert Darnton.
Viking, 284 pp., £14.95, July 1984, 0 7139 1728 8
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Rousseau, Dreamer of Democracy 
by James Miller.
Yale, 272 pp., £25, July 1984, 0 300 03044 4
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... It is the fortune, or perhaps the misfortune, of the Enlightenment that its historians frequently write very long books. FrancoVenturi’s Settecento Riformatore, which must surely be one of the longest, has now reached its fifth and final volume. As an enterprise it can have few parallels even among dixhuitièmistes. It offers no ...

Diary

Eric Hobsbawm: An Assembly of Ghosts

21 April 2005
... the city of Gramsci and Togliatti, birthplace both of the Italian Communist Party, whose policy inspired the pre-perestroika Gorbachev, and of fighting liberals like the distinguished and admirable FrancoVenturi, partisan commander and historian of the European Enlightenment and of Russian Populism. Severe and intellectually serious, no Italian city has a better record of anti-Fascism, even among its ...

Writing the History of Middle Earth

Colin Kidd: Edward Gibbon

6 July 2000
Barbarism and Religion Vol 1: The Enlightenments of Edward Gibbon, 1737-64 
by J.G.A. Pocock.
Cambridge, 339 pp., £55, October 1999, 0 521 77921 9
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Barbarism and Religion Vol 2: Narratives of Civil Government 
by J.G.A. Pocock.
Cambridge, 422 pp., £55, October 1999, 0 521 77921 9
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... world has been a point of departure to more exotic destinations. Italy between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment exerted a particular fascination through the scholarship of Arnaldo Momigliano and FrancoVenturi. Further afield, his interests as a historian of political thought have extended to ancient Chinese philosophy and the conceptual vocabulary of Maori discourse. The world of Edward Gibbon ...

Spinoza got it

Margaret Jacob: Radical Enlightenment

8 November 2012
A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy 
by Jonathan Israel.
Princeton, 276 pp., £13.95, September 2011, 978 0 691 15260 8
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... opinion and law-bound government, and their desire to alter, if not abolish, absolutism in church and state – the Enlightenment as described by historians such as Cassirer, Gay, Daniel Mornet, FrancoVenturi, Robert Darnton, John Marshall (and myself) – dissolves in Israel’s dialectical thinking. Israel sees two Enlightenments, one radical and good, the other moderate and of mixed value at ...

The Force of the Anomaly

Perry Anderson: Carlo Ginzburg

26 April 2012
Threads and Traces: True False Fictive 
by Carlo Ginzburg, translated by Anne Tedeschi and John Tedeschi.
California, 328 pp., £20.95, January 2012, 978 0 520 25961 4
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... now in its fifth volume. The cataracts fall vertically across time. What of the horizontal moves in Ginzburg’s work? Here the key term is the anomaly. An anecdote can serve as illustration. One day Franco Moretti and Carlo Ginzburg went to the Metropolitan Museum in New York together. Coming upon Vermeer’s A Maid Asleep, depicting a servant-girl drowsing at a table laden with fruit, a wine-glass ...

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