Bob Darnton Continues his Scholarly Contributions



Clearly, Robert Choate Darnton, as an esteemed scholar of Enlightenment France and of the history of the book, has been one of our more prolific classmates. He has freely produced, and continues to produce considerable scholarly fruit, many illustrative of his engaging sense of humor (just take a look at some of the titles below) … and he has nobly devoted much of his career, especially as Harvard’s Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and University Librarian from 2007 to 2015, to ensuring open access to knowledge. Since retirement, Bob has created sister volumes on the book trade and publishing in eighteenth-century France; A Literary Tour de France: The World of Books on the Eve of the French Revolution came out in 2018 and Publishing and Pirating in the Age of the Enlightenment should be out in 2021. Harvard staff writer Corydon Ireland impressively conveyed (drawing upon Bob’s own words) both the essence of Bob’s philosophy and his contributions. Please peruse Ireland’s article here: See also Bob’s website,, for additional information, including links to some of his publications.

BOOKS, PRINCIPAL WORKS (in chronological order):

Mesmerism and the End of the Enlightenment in France, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., l968.
The Business of Enlightenment: A Publishing History of the Encyclopédie, l775-l800, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., l979.
The Literary Underground of the Old Regime, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., l982.
The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History, Basic Books, New York, l984;
The Kiss of Lamourette: Reflections in Cultural History, W. W. Norton, New York, l989.
Edition et sédition. L'univers de la littérature clandestine au XVIIIe siècle, Gallimard, Paris, l99l.
Berlin Journal, l989-l990, W. W. Norton, New York, l99l.
Gens de lettres, gens du livre, Editions Odile Jacob, Paris, l992.
The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Prerevolutionary France, W. W. Norton, New York, 1995.
The Corpus of Clandestine Literature in France, 1769-1789, W. W. Norton, New York, 1995.
J.-P. Brissot, His Career and Correspondence (1779-1787), Voltaire Foundation, Oxford, 2001 (an electronic book available only on the Web.)
George Washington's False Teeth. An Unconventional Guide to the Eighteenth Century, W. W. Norton, New York, 2003.
The Case for Books, Past, Present, and Future, Public Affairs, New York, 2009.
The Devil in the Holy Water or the Art of Slander in France from Louis XIV to Napoleon, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 2010.
Poetry and the Police: Communication Networks in Eighteenth-Century Paris, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2010.
Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature, W.W. Norton, New York, 2014.
A Literary Tour de France. The World of Books on the Eve of the French Revolution, Oxford University Press, New York, 2018.
Publishing and Pirating in the Age of Enlightenment, Oxford University Press, News York, to be published in 2021.