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Enlightenment Underground


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About the Author

Martin Mulsow, author and editor of numerous works, is Professor of History at the University of Erfurt, Germany and Director of the Research Center for Cultural and Social Scientific Studies in Gotha.

H. C. Erik Midelfort, author of Witchcraft, Madness, Society, and Religion in Early Modern Germany: A Ship of Fools, is Julian Bishko Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Virginia, USA.


There can be no question that the German-speaking world figured prominently in the early stages of the clandestine Radical Enlightenment as it did also later. Martin Mulsow's Enlightenment Underground is pathbreaking for its research and arguably the most important study we have on German radical thought between 1650 and 1750, covering the era from Matthias Knutzen down to Lessing. It is also one of the most lively and fascinating.

--Jonathan Israel, Institute for Advanced Study, author of A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy

Enlightenment Underground is a work of striking originality and rigor--substantively and methodologically--that opens unexpected windows onto the intellectual ferment, networks, sources, and often unintended consequences of speculation and debate about religion and faith in the 'early' German Enlightenment. It changes the entire debate about both the content and the transmission of early modern ideas, and it integrates the worlds of German mentalities into a broader history of deep conceptual change in early modern Europe.

--Alan Charles Kors, University of Pennsylvania, editor in chief of the Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment

"Mulsow's book weaves an incredibly dense and rich web, deftly covering a range of topics in ancient and modern philosophy and theology. Determined readers will find much profit from this fascinating book."

--Michael Printy, Yale University "Journal of Modern History "

Praise for the German Edition: "With painstaking microscopic work, Mulsow has penetrated pseudonyms and anonyms and identified authors. In remote locations he has uncovered treatises that have been completely forgotten and that sometimes exist only in manuscript version. Mulsow is a learned detective among the historians of philosophy. The story, which he is well-equipped to tell, is breathtaking."--Friedrich Niew hner, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

"This is a marvelous, detailed, textured study of a large number of minor works and minor figures that developed and transmitted many of the elements of modern philosophy in early modern Germany."-- Journal of the History of Philosophy

"In his new book, [Mulsow] draws an overall picture of early radicalization. In doing so, he provides a history of religious critique during the early enlightenment. He connects separated disciplines and demonstrates unexpected mutual impacts between oriental studies and science, Bible exegesis and history, and above all between jurisprudence and philosophy. He has opened up a wealth of new material.... But the significance of Mulsow's monumental work lies in the fact that he connects several hitherto unconnected currents of research: the history of ideas of Enlightenment philosophy, the archival registration of clandestine texts, and the analysis of communication structures in the European Republic of Letters.... Muslow has written a fresh and learned book."-- S ddeutsche Zeitung

"Mulsow's extraordinarily learned book offers historians a model of how to write intellectual history."--John Halloran, H-German, H-Net Reviews

For readers of German, Mulsow's Moderne aus dem Untergrund. Radikale Fr haufkl rung in Deutschland 1680-1720 (2002) has become a standard in early Enlightenment studies. Mulsow's study of the radical Enlightenment has established one of the ruling understandings of the movement. Now, English readers can benefit from this work.

For the past twenty years Martin Mulsow has been one of the leading historians making sense of the world of learning of 17th and 18th century Europe. While several of his articles have appeared in English and Italian the majority of his voluminous writings are only accessible in German. For this reason, this translated edition of Mulsow's Enlightenment Underground: Radical Germany, 1680-1720, which appeared in German in 2002, is a significant event.

--Cromohs (Cyber Review of Modern Historiography)

Historical research on the European Enlightenment is no longer limited to a narrow canon of often-anthologized philosophers.... Martin Mulsow has been a part of this conversation and made significant contributions through edited volumes and critical editions. Enlightenment Underground is the translation of his 2002 Habilitationsschrift, and his first monographic study available to Anglophone readers.

--Reading Religion

This study is a superb example of historical scholarship. Martin Mulsow unearths an impressive range of mostly unknown German clandestine literature of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.... The principal merit of this book is the way in which Mulsow manages to decode these different conversations, which in turn allows him to contextualise these often forgotten texts within the broader early Enlightenment.

--Journal of Ecclesiastical History

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