Encyclopédie, Ou Dictionnaire Raisonné Des Sciences, Des Arts Et Des

Encyclopédie, Ou Dictionnaire Raisonné Des Sciences, Des Arts Et Des Métiers


the French encyclopedia that represents the greatest monument of French Enlightenment science and culture in the 18th century. The Encyclopédie was published in 35 volumes between 1751 and 1780. The basic edition consists of 17 volumes of text (60,000 articles) and 11 volumes of engravings illustrating the text. Four volumes of supplementary text and an additional volume of illustrations were published in 1776–77, and a two-volume index in 1780.

The publication of the Encyclopédie was initially undertaken by the Paris book publisher A. Le Breton. D. Diderot played the major role in the project; he was the organizer and editor in chief of the encyclopedia as well as author of the prospectus and of most of the articles on the exact sciences. D’Alembert was assistant editor until 1758. Contributing writers included P. Holbach, Voltaire, J.-F. Marmontel, J.-J. Rousseau, A. Turgot, and Montesquieu.

The historical significance of the Encyclopédie consists in its having laid the ideological groundwork for the French Revolution; the content of the articles, which combined excellence of style and readability, was directed against the French feudal order. The readership of the Encyclopédie was quite large for that time, consisting of close to 4,000 subscribers. New editions were published in Lucca (1758–76), Geneva (1778–79), and Lausanne (1778–81). Complete or partial translations of articles from the original edition were published in many different countries.