Brewer, Daniel. “The Encyclopédie:
Innovation and Legacy.” New Essays on Diderot, edited by James Fowler, Cambridge University Press, 2011, pp. 47–58. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511975202.004.
Brewer’s book chapter here serves as a basic introduction to the Encyclopédie’s linguistic strategies as well as editors’ overall structure and organization theories in regard to knowledge and its dissemination. He opens with a brief background of the Encyclopédie’s publishing history but quickly dives into an analysis of the Encyclopédie’s main themes, objectives, and attributes including the representation of all knowledge, alphabetical order of articles, and organization of articles as laid out by the mappemonde and tree of knowledge. Put together, Brewer claims, the Encyclopédie represented the union of a dictionary and an encyclopedia, especially in its ability to act as a storehouse of information for future generations. Brewer also briefly explores various articles (including the article “Encyclopédie”) to demonstrate more specific details of the Encyclopédie’s mechanics. These discussions include the editors’ choice of language (i.e., scholarly vs. trade), the purpose of the supplemental plates, the contributors’ humanist inspirations, cross-references (including the ironic), and the relationship between the Encyclopédie, religion, and the French government. Interlaced within, Brewer additionally provides meaningful analysis of the Encyclopédie’s linguistic choices and qualities including problems with creating definitions, the rejection of Port Royal ideals (alongside Diderot’s belief that words carry meaning over time and can represent history and change), and the idea of a linguistic clock (where words lose meaning over time).
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Main Classification: Linguistics, Language
1. Quotes are given in French with English translations in parantheses.
3/14/2021: Created page.