The Enlightenment is the foundation of our modern world. This is now the book about it.
Ritchie Robertson is Taylor Professor of German at the University of Oxford. He is a member of the board of the Voltaire Foundation which promotes research on the Enlightenment, and is a frequent reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement.
cogently expressed and scrupulously documented ... The
Enlightenment, he believes, has an urgent message for our time
-- Keith Thomas * London Review of Books *
the book is written out of genuine curiosity and palpable enthusiasm. Robertson's range allows him to make many illuminating comparisons and some provocative juxtapositions ... This is surely the best and most up to date single-volume study of the Enlightenment that we currently possess. It will inform the general reader while also often provoking, delighting and surprising the specialist. -- David Womersley * Standpoint *
The Enlightenment by Ritchie Robertson is a fine examination of how the enlightenment changed the world in different ways in different places - scintillating. -- Simon Sebag Montefiore * Aspects of History Books of the Year *
a work that is at once readable, authoritative and wide-ranging ... a handsome single volume, complete with nearly 30 images from the great first editions of the period. The author is a professor of German literature and thought at Oxford University, but whatever the specific subject addressed, the quality of scholarship is uniformly high. -- Jesse Norman * Spectator *
learned, capacious and gloriously rich ... "The first Quality of an Historian," David Hume wrote to a friend, "is to be true and impartial; the next to be interesting." Judged by such a standard, Robertson must be reckoned a historian of very high quality indeed. His book is not just learned and balanced, it is also - in the noblest tradition of the Enlightenment itself - principled and humane. -- Tom Holland * The Times *
Mr. Robertson is a splendid writer, astoundingly versed in European letters and gifted at vividly sketching the views of the "Enlighteners." ... Mr. Robertson, armed with a prodigious knowledge of the Enlightenment's literary output, has captured the tone and spirit of this milieu. -- Jeffrey Collins * Wall Street Journal *
Mr. Robertson is a splendid writer, astoundingly versed in European letters and gifted at vividly sketching the views of the "Enlighteners" ... [who] has written a fitting tribute to his subject ... Often characterized as a great philosophical movement, it is better understood as a style, a set of shifting public habits and attitudes. Mr. Robertson, armed with a prodigious knowledge of the Enlightenment's literary output, has captured the tone and spirit of this milieu. -- Jeffrey Collins * Wall Street Journal *
Masterly...[an] epic survey of Enlightened minds, ideas and policies across Europe and the Americas...Mr Robertson sweetens erudition with humanity, much as his subjects did. Science and statecraft, which are amply chronicled, yield to compassion, sympathy and a self-critical outlook that welcomes experimentation and changes of mind. Not least among its lessons for today, The Enlightenment shows how its sages learned "to manage even Disputes with Civility". -- The Economist
A thoroughly satisfying history of an era that was not solely about reason but was "also the age of feeling, sympathy and sensibility." ... a magisterial history of Europe and the West, featuring more than 100 chapters ... An entirely absorbing doorstop history of ideas. * Kirkus Reviews *
The analyst has to stick to the ideas. Robertson does this expansively and lucidly, not just reporting them, but arguing them out in admirable thumbnail sketches, rich in detail, of literary as well as philosophical and also scientific works. -- T.J. Reed * Catholic Herald *