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ROBERT DARNTON’S ASSIGNMENT

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ROBERT DARNTON’S ASSIGNMENT
1. What does Darnton make of a police inspector's interest in Enlightenment philosophers?
Robert Darnton’s book deals with the Enlightenment France and the particular process of historiography, in his search to find out the way French lived in the 18th century.
He takes particular incidents and primary documents in French history and exercises them duly to place them in the deeper themes of how the French people lived their lives.
However, his book also concentrates on the lives and ways of many philosophes and famous Enlightenment writers developed their circles of presentiment. As a result, they helped expand the “tree of knowledge” which was through the use of Diderot’s Encyclopaedie.
Interestingly, Darnton also talks about the constant means of surveillance employed by the Parisian police, through the eyes of Joseph d’Hemery, who kept tabs on all the philosophers through various mediums. The reason he did this is because, these intellectual were having scholarly debates and discussion in cafes or other formal venues which was a threat to the absolute monarchy of Louis XIV and XV.
In Chapter four, Darnton gives a clear view of the police inspector's interest in Enlightenment philosophers which states: “It seems reasonable to conclude that his files covered a major proportion of the active literary population and that the statistics drawn from them give a fairly accurate picture of literary life in the capital of the Enlightenment”.
In short, d’Hemery took stock of the literary world with sympathy, humor, and an appreciation of literature itself.
Diderot appeared as the incarnation of danger in the files of the police because d’Hemery believed that atheism undercut the authority of the crown. Police then needed to recognize danger in both forms, whether it struck below the belt as personal defamation or spread through the atmosphere from the garrets of philosophes.
Nonetheless, in identifying Diderot, d’Hemery distinguished a critical element in the Old Regime and one that especially needed watching from the perspective of the police. By watching the police watch the likes of Diderot, one can see the dim figure of the intellectual take on a perceptible shape and emerge as a force to be reckoned with in early modern France.

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