Encyclopédie; ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences...

Encyclopédie; ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, par une société de gens de lettres. Mis en ordre & publié par M. Diderot ... & quant à la partie mathématique, par M. d'Alembert. A Paris, Chez Briasson ...David ...Le Breton...Durand ..., 1751-65. Proof volume.

Gift of Douglas H. Gordon

The Diderot Encyclopédie stands out as one of the most brilliant literary enterprises of the eighteenth century. Conceived, created, and guided by the French philosopher Denis Diderot, this compendium of learning encapsulates the Enlightenment's fascination with rational thought and schemas of information. In its attempt to provide a complete roadmap to diverse fields of knowledge, this radical idea of creating an encyclopedia drew on the resources of many of the world's finest thinkers. In addition to Diderot, himself, other contributors to the Encyclopédie include Voltaire, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Buffon, Turgot, Quesnay and other specialists. Conceived in 1745 and finally completed in 1780, the work comprises thirty-five volumes in all. The set belonging to the University of Virginia Library, generously donated by Douglas H. Gordon, consists of thirty-six volumes.

The additional volume in the Gordon set contains over 300 original page proofs of articles from the Encyclopédie with corrections in the hand of Diderot. One of the editors of the encyclopedia, André Le Breton, who is known to have censored many of the articles, apparently made up this volume. The selected proofs in the thirty-sixth book appear in the original settings before being censored by Le Breton and are, therefore, the only known source of Diderot's full texts.

Dictionnaire universel

Furetiére, Antoine. Dictionnaire universel; contenant generalement tous les mots françois tant vieux que modernes, et les termes des sciences et des arts: tome premier. A-D. Hague, chez P. Husson, T. Johnson [etc.] 1727.

Purchased with Humanities Fund for Romance Languages.

Why censor Diderot's Encyclopédie? As one of the first "how-to" works, complete with very clear illustrations, the encyclopedia gave the masses information that previously had been available only to the upper classes. Le Breton expurgated the text in response to the encyclopedia's "anti-religious" emphasis on science.

Author Antoine Furetiére started his struggle with the Académie Française in 1666. Although a member of this academic institution, he incurred its displeasure by writing realistically about the Parisian middle class. Relations worsened in 1675, when Furetiére announced his intention to publish a dictionary of the French language, although the Académie Française was working on a similar project. In an attempt to suppress its competitor's work, the Académie accused Furetiére of plagiarizing, significantly delaying his undertaking. Furetiére's three-volume dictionary was first published in Holland in 1690.

New and Complete Dictionary of the English Language

Ash, John. The New and Complete Dictionary of the English Language. London: Printed for E. & C. Dilly [etc.], 1775.

Can you find the dirty word?

This dictionary from the eighteenth century was not censored, unlike other dictionaries. In America, those produced by Noah Webster were heavily "purified" and did not retain words thought to be vulgar or obscene. Even more influential in shaping our language, Webster also focused on spelling-reform. For instance, it is largely due to Webster's dictionaries that Americans spell "honor" without an "u." Still, not all of Webster's altered spellings caught on with the American public. Should the writer or editor of a reference work prescribe the English language in this manner? If so, is it censorship?

Age of Reason

Paine, Thomas. The Age of Reason: Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology. Paris: Printed by Barrois; London: Sold by D.I. Eaton, 1794.

From the Tracy W. McGregor Library of American History.

Thomas Paine was no stranger to controversy. Publication of his essay The Rights of Man led to his indictment on charges of treason for supporting the American colonists in their quest for independence from Britain. In The Age of Reason, Paine attacked Christianity as a "pious fraud," calling it "repugnant to reason." Instead, Paine promoted Deism, a religious expression of scientific rationalism. As The Age of Reason was easily available to a wide audience, clergy in America and Britain criticized his work as dangerous to the souls of the uneducated.

Vice Versus Reason

Vice Versus Reason: A Copy of the Bill of Indictment, Found at the Old Bailey Sessions, January 16, 1819, Against Richard Carlile, for Publishing Paine's Age of Reason. London: Printed and Published by R. Carlile, 1819.

From the Richard Maass Collection of Thomas Paine.

Richard Carlile was heavily fined and imprisoned for publishing Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason. A fervent proponent of freedom of the press, Carlile spent nine years in prison for publishing various editions of The Age of Reason and other Deist materials and, ultimately, was left bankrupt. The furor over The Age of Reason and the attendant publicity ensured that the work would be read for years to come. Who would you hold more accountable: the writer who writes "dangerous" ideas or the publisher who publishes them?

Ecclesiasticall History

Foxe, John. The Ecclesiasticall History, Contayning the Actes & Monuments of Thinges Passed in Every Kinges Time, in this Realme, Especially in the Churches of England Principally to be Noted with a Full Discourse of such Persecutions, Horrible Troubles, the Suffering of Martirs, the Severe Punishment of Persecutors, the Great Providence of God in Preserving Many, and Other Thinges.... London: Printed by John Daye, 1576.

Gift of J.C. Wyllie.

William Tyndale produced the first Bible, translated and printed in English. Subsequently, he is associated with the first printed book ever banned in England. During the early sixteenth century, Protestant reformers and Catholics alike violently suppressed translations of "God's word," accusing translators, such as Tyndale, of defying church authority and selling "pernicious merchandise." Tyndale's translation of the New Testament was publicly burned by Church dignitaries; and sadly so was he, at the stake, in 1536.

Newe Testament

The Newe Testament, Dylygently Corrected and Compared with the Greke by Willyam Tindale. [Antwerp: By Marten Emperowr, 1534].

From the Tracy W. McGregor Library of American History.

Little Catholic Child's Prayer Book

Catholic Church. Little Catholic Child's Prayer Book. Philadelphia: H.L. Kilner, [190-?].

Gift of Rev. William J. Morton.

The Catholic Church still puts its Imprimatur (Latin for "let it be printed") stamp on books with content of significance to religion, theology, and morality. While the Imprimatur has come to imply endorsement of content or doctrine, the notation is actually only an indication that the Catholic censor found nothing offensive in the work.