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Representing private lives of the Enlightenment

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Volume editor(s)
Volume editor(s): 
Andrew Kahn
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About the Book

About the Book: 

What constituted the ‘private’ in the eighteenth-century? In Representing private lives of the Enlightenment authors look beyond a simple equation of the private and the domestic to explore the significance of the individual and its constructions of identity and environment.

Taking case studies from Russia, France, Italy and England, specialists from a range of disciplines analyse descriptions of the private situated largely outside the familial context: the nobleman at the theatre or in his study, the woman in her boudoir, portraitists and their subject, the solitary wanderer in the public garden, the penitent at confession. This critical approach provides a comparative framework that simultaneously confirms the Enlightenment as a pan-European movement, both intellectually and socially, whilst uncovering striking counterpoints. What emerges is a unique sense of how individuals from different classes and cultures sought to map their social and domestic sphere, and an understanding of the permeable boundaries separating private and public.

Andrew Kahn, Introduction: The problem of private life

Sarah Maza, Historians and eighteenth-century private life: an overview

Caroline Warman, Intimate, deprived, uncivilised: Diderot and the publication of the private moment

Olivier Ferret, Inventing private lives: the representation of private lives in French Vies privées

Lise Andries, The private life of criminals

Alison Oliver, La Nouvelle Héloïse and Wolmar’s project: transforming passion into ‘familiarité fraternelle’

Larry Wolff, Private life, personal liberty and sexual crime in eighteenth-century Venice: the case of Gaetano Franceschini

Viktor Zhivov, Handling sin in eighteenth-century Russia

Irina Reyfman, Writing, ranks and the eighteenth-century Russian gentry experience

Andreas Schönle, Private walks and public gazes: Enlightenment and the use of gardens in eighteenth-century Russia

Mark Ledbury, Embracing and escaping the material: genre painting, objects and private life in eighteenth-century France

Shearer West, Eccentricity and the self: private character in English public portraiture

Adam Sutcliffe, Friendship and materialism in the French Enlightenment

M.O. Grenby, Captivating Enlightenment: eighteenth-century children’s books and the private life of the child

Andrei Zorin, Schiller, gonorrhoea and original sin in the emotional life of a Russian nobleman







'…this new collection, while unavoidably in dialogue with its illustrious predecessor, brings a freshness to the subject that moves away from the traditional view of “private” as domestic and so in opposition to the public sphere, towards a whole series of alternative definitions of privacy and individuality.'


‘…a lively and engaging work that deserves an important place in contemporary social studies of European bourgeois culture.’