Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France” as Want to Read:
The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  142 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
Robert Darnton's work is one of the main reasons that cultural history has become an exciting study central to our understanding of the past.

More popular than the canon of the great Enlightenment philosophers were other books, also banned by the regime, written and sold "under the cloak." These formed a libertine literature that was a crucial part of the culture of dissent
Paperback, 440 pages
Published April 17th 1996 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 1995)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Be the first to ask a question about The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
J.M. Hushour
Dec 17, 2015 J.M. Hushour rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes you come across works of history whose playful iconoclasm and poking and prodding of established historiography is actually more interesting than the actual subject at hand. Darnton, who wrote the terrific "Great Cat Massacre" challenges establishment views of the French Revolution and its links to the Enlightenment by hesitantly making inroads towards a history of reading. Hilariously, what he ends up with is more questions than answers and he has a lot of fun doing it.
His basic argum
Aug 04, 2011 Cindy rated it liked it
I went to France this past summer so, given my history kick, I thought I'd give this another try. In grad school, one of the seminars focused on French history and cultural history. So I remember that books were illegally trafficked but I don't remember much else about this book.

So, it took 91 pages for me to find something in the book that interested me. It's not that I don't appreciate the research. It's amazing to dissimenate the culture of dissent by looking at the books people were illegal
Sarah Wagner
Sep 08, 2014 Sarah Wagner rated it really liked it
I read this book for a class on the French Enlightenment and it was a nice break from reading Voltaire and Rousseau to actually read works even more popular than the great philosophers! This book provides a more diverse picture of French society before the revolution and really digs into the underlying problems of French society and culture. Fascinating!
Jun 05, 2015 Katie rated it liked it
Way, waaaaaay more wonkish than a book about pornography has any right to be. Interesting, though.
Apr 16, 2012 Steve rated it really liked it
Fascinating and highly readable, as his other books have been. This is the second of his books on the book industry of pre-Revolutionary France; the other covered more conventional works of philosophy such as Rousseau while this one focuses more on pornography, anti-church books, and seditious material.

This becomes even more interesting when you realize philosophical books were the illegal drugs of the 17th and 18th centuries, with book smugglers sneaking unbound books into cities hidden in wine
Sherwood Smith
Darnton does what he sets out to do: give an overview of forbidden books in France during the later 1600s and through the 1700s. He also talks about the forbidden presses, as well as lists what the popular books were. (The reader will be amazed to discover that one of the top sellers was not just porn, as one would think, but a science fiction story supposedly set in Paris in the year 2000, whose author amended it right on through the Revolution, claiming that he'd predicted it.)
Aug 23, 2007 John rated it really liked it
Jul 09, 2008 Sylvie rated it liked it
it's not a page-turner per se, but definitly interesting to learn about how they got their kicks before beheading royalty.
Ruth rated it it was amazing
Aug 01, 2007
Celeste Wagner
Celeste Wagner rated it really liked it
Dec 23, 2013
Henry rated it it was amazing
Jul 23, 2014
Ken Ward
Ken Ward rated it really liked it
Jul 17, 2013
Allysson Lima
Allysson Lima rated it it was amazing
Dec 23, 2014
Susannah rated it it was amazing
Jul 27, 2008
Ellen rated it it was amazing
Apr 04, 2015
Karen E.
Karen E. rated it really liked it
Sep 25, 2008
vir rated it it was amazing
Apr 09, 2011
Clay rated it it was amazing
Aug 30, 2007
Lydia rated it really liked it
May 13, 2015
Eloise rated it did not like it
Mar 02, 2016
Andrew rated it liked it
May 09, 2014
Federico rated it really liked it
Oct 01, 2012
Darcie Schillinger
Darcie Schillinger rated it liked it
May 15, 2014
Tom rated it it was ok
Aug 24, 2014
Amy Harris
Amy Harris rated it liked it
Jul 11, 2011
Nicole rated it it was amazing
Sep 04, 2011
Amanda rated it liked it
Oct 12, 2014
Tiffanie rated it it was amazing
Mar 22, 2017
In4matt rated it really liked it
Nov 28, 2011
Patrick rated it really liked it
Jan 21, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Book in the Renaissance
  • The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing 1450-1800
  • The Book History Reader
  • For the Soul of France: Culture Wars in the Age of Dreyfus
  • The Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Paganism
  • Liberty: The Lives and Times of Six Women in Revolutionary France
  • The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe
  • Gutenberg: How One Man Remade the World with Words
  • Introducing Marquis De Sade
  • A People's History of the American Revolution: How Common People Shaped the Fight for Independence
  • When the King Took Flight
  • City of Laughter: Sex and Satire in Eighteenth-Century London
  • Flesh in the Age of Reason: The Modern Foundations of Body and Soul
  • The Resistance: The French Fight Against the Nazis
  • The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic
  • Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution
  • Vive la Revolution: A Stand-up History of the French Revolution
  • Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age
Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the Harvard University Library
More about Robert Darnton...

Share This Book