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The Enlightenment and the Book


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Richard B. Sher is Distinguished Professor of History at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He is the author of Church and University in the Scottish Enlightenment: The Moderate Literati of Edinburgh.


In 1757, when philosopher David Hume boasted that the Scots were "the People most distinguish'd for Literature in Europe," he was undoubtedly pitching it a bit strong. But as Sher (Church and University in the Scottish Enlightenment) notes in his conclusion to this mammoth and definitive work, "less than fifty years later that boast had considerably more merit than most contemporaries might have thought possible when it was first uttered." At its core, this is a painstaking investigation of how Scotland became a wellspring of Enlightenment books, an achievement Sher argues came about through the efforts of authors and publishers who shared and benefited from a complex and symbiotic relationship. The book is divided into three parts, with Part 1 focusing on the authors of Scottish Enlightenment books (e.g., John Gregory, Adam Smith), Part 2 looking at the principal publishers of these works in London and Edinburgh (e.g., Andrew Millar, William Strahan), and Part 3 examining the reprinting of these works by publishers in Dublin and Philadelphia. An appendix features seven tables that organize the data on the people and works discussed throughout. This extraordinary work of scholarship is essential for all research libraries.-William D. Walsh, Georgia State Univ. Lib., Atlanta Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"A major achievement." - Times Literary Supplement "This is an exceptional piece of work. It is both an astonishing accumulation of informative detail and a multiplicity of lively interconnected narratives of authors, books, booksellers, printers and other subjects. It is a very useful reference book, with its nearly 150 pages of tables and bibliographies; it is also an engaging and stimulating read." - Antonia Forster, Review of English Studies "Discerningly illustrated, at once scholarly and accessible, this is an essential addition not only to eighteenth-century studies but also to the history of the book." - Atlantic.

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