ONEONTA, N.Y. -- The Milne Library at SUNY Oneonta will host an exhibition of French philosopher and writer Denis Diderot’s 18th Century masterwork, Encylopédie, from Monday, April 11-Thursday, May 6. Theevent will celebrate the re-opening of the library’s Alden Room.
A ribbon cutting and exhibit reception featuring a guest lecture entitled “The 18th Century Book Trade & the Encyclopédie” by Dr. Thierry Rigogne of Fordham University will take place in the Alden Room at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12. Admission to the exhibition, reception, and lecture, is complimentary, and community members are invited to attend.
Encyclopédie was a towering editorial achievement, including nearly 75,000 entries contributed by many of the era’s most important authors, including Jean-Jaques Rousseau, Voltaire and Montesquieu. More than 4,000 complete collections of Encyclopédie were manufactured during its first press run, an enormous number of copies for its time.
Publication of Encyclopédie began in 1751 and continued through 1759, at which time the French government halted production becausesome articles were considered radical. Support from a handful of sympathetic nobles allowed work to continue in secret, and by 1772 Encyclopédie’s original 28 volumes were complete.
The compendium became wildly successful commercially and is recognized as the embodiment of Enlightenment thinking. Historians cite Encyclopédie’s challenge of Catholic teachings in scientific matters and disambiguation of political power and intellectual reason as key factors ininciting the unrest that led to the French Revolution.
SUNY Oneonta’s version of Encylopédie was published between 1777-1780 and consists of 39 volumes that were acquired in the 1960s. It was the first mass-market edition of the Encyclopédie and remains among the most significant titles in the library’s collection.
“Our Encylopédie is certainly a cherished holding here at Milne,” said exhibition organizer Dr. Mette Harder, assistant professor of modern European history at SUNY Oneonta. “We are delighted to have such an occasion to share this rare and historically valuable work.”
Additional information about the Encylopédie exhibit or the Alden Room re-opening celebration can be found by contacting event organizer Dr. Harder at firstname.lastname@example.org or (607) 436-3262.