Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers
Denis Diderot (1713-1784)
The display case contains an original edition of the Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers. Published in the 18th century, it was a major encyclopedic work, of revolutionary importance in the dissemination of European culture and thought. Its creation originated with Parisian bookseller André Le Breton, who wanted to have Denis Diderot translate the Cyclopaedia of Englishman Ephraim Chambers. Breton joined forces with a large group of intellectuals, but it was Diderot, assisted by Jean-Baptiste Le Rond d'Alembert, who turned the original project into the first major attempt to create a universal compendium of knowledge. It was first published between 1751 and 1772 in seventeen volumes of text containing more than 71,000 entries and eleven volumes of illustrated plates including around two thousand images. Published in French, it also represents the first example of a successful modern encyclopedia with wide distribution, which later encyclopedias took inspiration from and were modelled after. In 1970, Franco Maria Ricci published a faithful reproduction of the Encyclopédie, consisting of eighteen volumes: twelve of them included reproductions of all the engravings, five volumes contained the most significant entries, and one volume contained a series of unpublished essays dedicated to the Enlightenment by contemporary authors such as Jorge Louis Borges, Roland Barthes, and Jacques Proust.