Double your dating google books

03 Feb

In practice, it was dominated by the wellborn and the rich.

Far from being able to live from their pens, most writers had to court patrons, solicit sinecures, lobby for appointments to state-controlled journals, dodge censors, and wangle their way into salons and academies, where reputations were made.

But those of us who are responsible for research libraries have a clear view of a common goal: we want to open up our collections and make them available to readers everywhere. The only workable tactic may be vigilance: see as far ahead as you can; and while you keep your eye on the road, remember to look in the rearview mirror.

Anyone could join it by exercising the two main attributes of citizenship, writing and reading. Thanks to the power of the printed word, the judgments spread in widening circles, and the strongest arguments won.

The word also spread by written letters, for the eighteenth century was a great era of epistolary exchange.

Two future presidents discussing books through the information network of the Enlightenment—it’s a stirring sight.

But before this picture of the past fogs over with sentiment, I should add that the Republic of Letters was democratic only in principle.