The politics of a publishing event: the Marchand milieu and The life and spirit of Spinoza of 1719

  • John Christian Laursen
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Idées book series (ARCH, volume 148)


The 1719 edition of La Vie et l’Esprit de Mr Benoît de Spinosa was a significant event in the history of the press. It brought out in print a heretical and subversive text that had hitherto circulated only in clandestine manuscript. It was one of the most accessible of such texts, since it was short, clear, and direct, and did not hide its message behind massive erudition nor disguise it in scholarly polemics. It contained the first French translation of significant sections of Hobbes’s Leviathan and of Spinoza’s Ethics, and provided a materialist interpretation thereof.1 Its publication was a test of the limits of the free press in the Netherlands.


Ideal Type Publishing Event Political Purpose French Translation Early Eighteenth Century 
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  1. 1.
    See Sylvia Berti, `La Vie et l’Esprit de Spinosa (1719) e la prima traduzione francese dell’Ethica’, Rivista storica italiana, 98 (1986): 5–46, and Françoise Charles-Daubert, `Les principales sources de L’Esprit de Spinosa, traité libertin et pamphlet politique’, Groupe de Recherches Spinozists: Travaux et Documents, no. 1(1989): 61–107.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Christian Laursen
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaRiversideUSA

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