Catherine & Diderot: The Empress, the Philosopher, and the Fate of the Enlightenment
(Harvard University Press, 2019)
A famous encounter in 1773 between a subversive French philosopher who wrote about the nature of power and Russian Empress Catherine the Second, who extended the invitation, inspired this dual biography. From researching letters and memoirs, the author recreates conversations, debates, and a friendship that developed over the course of more than forty private meetings. An intellectual and political history of the time emerges in Catherine’s resistance to Diderot’s efforts for an enlightenment that would replace the old monarchical system.
11:30 AM | Lewes Public Library
Robert Zaretsky, literary biographer, is also a historian at the Honors College, University of Houston, and a frequent contributor to The New York Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Foreign Policy.