A Wicked Company: The Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment

Philipp Blom
0771016352, 978-0771016356


Product Description

The acclaimed author of The Vertigo Years tells the remarkable story of the Parisian salon that brought together the greatest minds of the 18th century - Rousseau, Hume, Diderot, Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin - and changed the world forever.

The Paris salon of Paul-Henri Thiry, Baron d'Holbach - where friendship and radical philosophy flourished throughout the 1760s - stands as a seminal event in Western history. Over wine-soaked dinner parties, the finest minds of the Western world matched wits and scandalized one another with their radical ideas. Holbach's house became an epicenter of free thinking, a place like no other in repressive eighteenth-century Europe, frequented by men and women united by their love of intellectual freedom, their contempt for the conventional, and often the danger of persecution. It was a moment of astonishing radicalism in European thought, so uncompromising and bold that its vision has still not been fully realized.

In A Wicked Company, acclaimed historian Philipp Blom describes the fortunes of this group of friends: writers of genius all, full of wit and courage, but also personal contradictions, doubts, conflicts of conscience, and their fair share of arguments and love affairs. Their bracing, liberating, humanist vision bursts free of the page in Blom's telling, and their analysis of our culture remains as valid as it was then. A startlingly relevant work of narrative history, Wicked Companyforces us to confront with new eyes modern debates about our society and its future.

About the Author

Philipp Blom is a writer, editor, literary translator, broadcaster, and journalist. He holds a Ph.D. in history from Oxford University. He is the author of several books of fiction and non-fiction, including The Vertigo YearsEncyclopédie, and To Have and to Hold. He frequently contributes articles to the Financial Times, the Independent, and the Guardian, among others.