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Encyclopédie Noire: The Making of Moreau de Saint-Méry's Intellectual World

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If you peer closely into the bookstores, salons, and diplomatic circles of the eighteenth-century Atlantic world, sooner or later Mederic Louis Elie Moreau de Saint-Mery is bound to appear. As a lawyer, philosophe, and Enlightenment polymath, Moreau created and compiled an immense archive that remains a vital window into the fragile social, political, and intellectual fault lines of the Age of Revolutions. But the gilded spines and elegant designs that decorate his archive obscure the truth: Moreau's achievements were, at every turn, predicated upon the work of enslaved and free people of color. Their labor amassed the wealth that afforded him the leisure to research, think, and write. Their rich intellectual and linguistic cultures filled the pages of his most applauded works. They set the type, dried the paper, and folded the pages that created his legacy. Every beautiful book Moreau designed contains an embedded story of hidden violence.

Sara Johnson's arresting investigation of race and knowledge in the revolutionary Atlantic surrounds Moreau with the African-descended people he worked so hard to erase, immersing him in a vibrant community of language innovators, forgers of kinship networks, and world travelers who strove to create their own social and political lives. Built from archival fragments, creative speculation, and audacious intellectual courage, Encyclopedie noire is a communal biography of the women and men who made Moreau's world.

ISBN-13: 9781469676913

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: Omohundro Institute and University of North C

Publication Date: 12-05-2023

Pages: 352

Series: Published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American Histo