Thursday, December 17, 2015

Enlightenment views of reading

Not all philosophers rejoiced in the growing access to books. Far from advocating universal literacy, Voltaire insisted that peasants should till the soil. But the most progressive thinkers, notably Condorcet and his friend Thomas Jefferson, identified Enlightenment with the diffusion of books and understood the printed word as the most powerful force for the liberation of humanity.
Robert Darnton, "From Printing Shop to Bookshelves: How Books Began the Journey to Enlightenment Libraries," in Alice Crawford, ed., The Meaning of the Library (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 2015), p. 92

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