It happened in 18th century France when Diderot’s Encyclopedia Challenged the King.
In this post on the LONGREADS website, Andrew S. Curran maintains that Diderot’s Encyclopédie was far more than a groundbreaking collection of articles on an impressive array of topics. It was highly subversive to the existing power structures not just in France, but worldwide. He writes that its goal of restructuring knowledge “was expressly designed to pass on the … method of intellectual freedom to a huge audience in Europe and, to a lesser extent, in faraway lands like Saint Petersburg and Philadelphia.” And obviously, intellectual freedom is not the friend of authoritarian regimes.
It is a classic story of the power of the printed word and how historically significant one published work can be. Needless to say, it is well worth reading.
(This essay is an excerpt adapted from Diderot: The Art of Thinking Freely | Other Press | January 2019)
Tom Gilson. Test Bio