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The Age of Reason (1700-1789)

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  17 Ratings  ·  3 Reviews
This is a study of the 18th century. Nicolson called his book a gallery of portraits, e.g. Saint Simon, elegant, a social climber; the dashing Prince Potemkin; Count Cagliostro, practitioner of black arts; Thomas Paine, inflamer of the masses; Jacques Casanova, lover, pornographer, and con man. This single masterful volume synthesizes, through people and events, the 18th c ...more
Paperback, 499 pages
Published May 16th 2009 by Axios Press (first published December 31st 1968)
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bobbygw bobbygw
This is the best single volume summary of European 18th century cultural, intellectual and political life. Nicolson's own intelligence, graceful writing style, wit, and - I emphasise - deep reading and study of the 18th century - makes this survey a joy to read, from beginning to end. In The Age of Reason, Nicolson not only captures, but also qualifies the intellectual, philosophical, political, religious and cultural events and most significant figures of the 18th century. As a one-volume accom ...more
Lauren Albert
A strange, eccentric look at the period (for instance, Nicolson believes that Rousseau was impotent and that therefore the story of his leaving his children at the foundling hospital was made up). The book is made up of profiles of individuals but his choices can be odd.
Jul 14, 2009 Dan rated it liked it
A lively survey of 18th century culture in the form of brief biographies of major figures in British, French and German philosophy, literature, and politics. The underlying theme is that many of these "rational" people and their ideas were quirky and even loony.
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Sir Harold George Nicolson KCVO CMG was an English diplomat, author, diarist and politician. He was the husband of writer Vita Sackville-West, their unusual relationship being described in their son's book, Portrait of a Marriage.
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