Jonathan Keates

An Appreciation of Emilie

Passionate Minds: The Great Enlightenment Love Affair

By

Little, Brown 314pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

Whether by the American religious Right or the gloomier sort of Catholic reactionary on this side of the Atlantic, the Enlightenment has lately been given rather a hard time. Those Fellows of the Royal Society in seventeenth-century London, innocently propounding theories of gravity and laws of physics, or those bewigged Parisian philosophes deriding the excesses of blind faith and calling for a little more in the way of rational discourse and civilised enquiry, are seen as demon harbingers of almost everything disagreeable or disastrous overtaking humanity during the last hundred years. From Galileo to the gulags, we are asked to believe, is but a short step.

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