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The Contribution of Salons to the Network and Cosmopolitan in the Enlightenment

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The Contribution of Salons to the Network and Cosmopolitan in the         Enlightenment

That the salon was at the core of the Enlightenment has become almost a commonplace for the historiography of this movement.[1]  The salon not only promoted Enlightenment values, but also provided a space where intellectuals could interact and converse. An ideal essential for the Enlightenment was cosmopolitan, which supposed the fact that human beings are brothers of the same nation and share the same rights and capacity to progress, regardless of race or state.[2] –tre sa zic si ceva de network… The salon played an essential role in developing the network and this cosmopolitan ideal of the Enlightenment as it put in contact various cultural and social elite members, it kept them connected, even though in different part of the worlds through conversation and correspondence and contributed to the constant cultural exchange of the Enlightenment.

Before arriving to our theme however, we will analyze briefly some social aspects of eighteenth century France, that made the Enlightenment and the development of the salons possible, while also looking at this cultural movement itself and its intellectuals.

`           Among other social changes, urbanization and the rise of urban elites had a particularly important contribution to the spread of Enlightenment ideas. The rise of the city contributed to the development of this cultural movement in that it created a sense of solidarity and network between city residents, while forming “a new kind of space for living and culture and a new way of interaction”. In other words, in the city, people lived close to each other and gradually came to converse and form friendships, which led to an increase in sociability. Also, in the city, schools were more accessible and teachers were better prepared, which stimulated parents to send their children to school. This, in the end, brought a rise in literacy and an increase in the demand for books. Along with the cities, the urban elites also underwent changes during the eighteenth century. Traditional mentality separated negotium, active life, and otium, contemplative existence, and considered the merchant or professional activities incompatible to the socio-cultural model of the academy. Despite this fact, the urban elites, professionals (“lawyers, doctors and lower clergy”[3]) or the “bourgeoisie de profit” (merchants and commerciants) gradually took up the role of intellectuals. They cultivated themselves by reading and owning private libraries, but they also maintained social relationships as well, as friends of intellectuals and as members of the Academies and loges. The urban elite also came to embody the ideals of the Enlightenment: “honnête, rational, libre et laïcise dans ses pratiques,”[4] which they exemplified and spread in their cities. Thus, urbanization and the rise of the urban elites contributed to the development of the Enlightenment by providing urban networks, a rise in literacy and a social class capable and eager to identify itself with the movement’s ideas and promote them.  

The Enlightenment and the Republic of Letters culturally dominated the eighteenth century. The Enlightenment can be defined either as an intellectual movement, or, as some historians would prefer, as “a tendency toward critical enquiry and the application of reason,”[5] since it placed at the center of its beliefs rationality, constant progress, the individual and his personal happiness. The intellectuals of the Enlightenment, the philosophes, differed from previous philosophers and intellectuals, in that they put aside the metaphysical preoccupations, and concentrated mostly on explaining the world through a rationalist and sensorial approach, which meant that they only analyzed what is visible, perceived through senses and grasped through reason. Also, by participating in social and cultural gatherings or institutions, such as the salons and the Academies, and by becoming more visible in the public eye, the philosophes increased their role in society and in the public sphere. 

It is in this complex social and cultural context that the French salon reaches its apex. Dena Goodman defines the salon as “a regular and regularized formal gathering hosted by a woman in her own home’’, since every salonniere had specific days of the week when she held her meetings. The salon was also “a forum and a locus of intellectual activity’’[6], where upperclassmen and intellectuals met to discuss serious and intellectual topics, which varied from critiquing recently published books to discussing philosophical ideas. The salon appeared in the seventeenth century, with the creation of the very popular Hotel Rambouillet (1607-1665) by Madame de Rambouillet. However, the salon attained its highest popularity and its most intense period of activity during the Enlightenment. The salons of Madames Du Deffand , Geoffrin (1749-1777) and Necker made the salon the most powerful source of networking, since it managed to bring together intellectual and social elites from different countries, in a cultural dialogue that transcended all boundaries.

Thus, the networking process started in the salons, where people gathered regularly. Social scientists have pointed out that at the basis of any network lie trust, solidarity and common values. In order to create a network, it is necessary to maintain contact with people over an extensive period of time, during which one gains trust and develops the common identity mentioned above. The salon easily created a network of people, since its members took the time to gather regularly. Indeed, for people like Jean François Marmontel, devoting a weekly amount of time to the salon was not an effort, but a pleasure. Marmontel notes in his mémoires that he dined in the salons at least two or three times a week : “vous devez comprendre combien il etoit doux pour moi de faire, deux ou trois fois par semaine, d’excellents diners en aussi bonne compagnie’’.[7] Thus, for our author, being a member of the salons and devoting time to them was not burden, but bliss, since only there could he enjoy the presence of people that he considered virtuous and intelligent, worthy of the name bonne companie.  

However, apart from spending time together, the members of the salon and network also had to share values and trust. Marmontel refers to Mme Geoffrin’s salon as a place where he spent time with the people he loved, his friends: “cheri de ceux qui m’estimois le plus et que j’aimois le plus moi-meme”.[8] What Marmontel suggests in saying this is the reciprocity of feelings that members of the salons gradually came to share. Marmontel’s remark applies not only to the relationship between Madame du Deffand and Horace Walpole, between Madame Geoffrin and Fontenelle, or between Madame d’Epinay and her “five bears”, Grimm, Rousseau, Desmoulins and Gauffecourt,[9] but also to numerous other examples of people who formed friendships in the salon and who respected and loved one another. Thus, what the salon did was create friendships, trust and connections that gradually transformed into a network that surpassed the limits of the salon itself.

Moreover, it is important to understand that the networking was an open process, as new people were constantly integrated. Steven Kale points out that the salons (and this could easily be extended to the network as well) were exclusivist, but open simultaneously, since they emphasized their distinctiveness, but social cohesion as well. [10] Established members of the salon constantly introduced potential members. For instance, l’abbé Morellet in his mémoires describes how he presented his niece to society: “elle fut bientôt appréciée ce qu’elle valait par une société spirituelle (…) tous les acquirent et l’aimèrent (…). Ces amitiés formées par elle dans le plus jeune age ne se sont jamais démenties et je n’étonne pas qu’elle ait trouve des amis fidèles.” [11] This quote suggests that for Morellet the most important thing that he can do for his niece is provide good friends, and the integration in the salon and in the elite network. Interestingly enough, Morellet uses the expression “societe spirituelle”, which has double meaning in French, as it simultaneously refers to its gaiety and irony and to its spiritual and intellectual virtues. Thus, l’abbé believed that, by frequenting this type of group from since youth, his niece would shape her natural intellectual gifts, while developing good friendships that would confirm their value in time. 

However, it was not enough to be introduced to a “spiritual society” to become part of the networking system or the salon: the salonnieres were the ones who established whether or not someone was allowed in the salons. Indeed, the salonnieres were constantly searching for established or new artistes and intellectuals whom they could bring to the network. Thus, meeting people with potential was more than pleasant to them. In one of her letters, Madame Du Deffand tells Horace Walpole how a certain Mister Harcourt had introduced to her the Miller family: “ce fut Milord Harcourt qui m’amena les Millers”[12]. She subsequently mentions: “Je suis convaincue que je connais les plus aimable de votre nation, et qu’aucune autre ne leur ressemble”.[13] For Madame du Deffand’s and the best of the salonnieres, it was inconceivable to be in contact with anyone but the elite of any country. Today the Millers are virtually unknown, as is Milord Harcourt. However, to Madame du Deffand, these people possessed the qualities necessary to become part of the network.

Moreover, madame du Deffand’s statement brings us to another aspect of the network and of the salon: their selectivity. If the French society was based on hierarchy, on class exclusivity, the salon promoted an intellectual type of exclusivity. Although an open process, the Enlightenment network was highly selective and it only accepted people of merit, who had distinguished themselves through their moral values and their creations or who had the potential to do so. For instance, when mentioning his niece, l’abbé Morellet emphasizes her unique qualities : “ je trouvais en elle tout ce que je pouvais désirer, une ame sensible, un esprit naturel, droit, piquant, toujours animé et toujours agréable’’.[14] As one can observe, the qualities of the young girl were in perfect accordance to those the “société spirituelle”, understood as both spiritual and gay: she is natural and pleasant, but also “picant”, that is ironic and witty.  Thus, she is a potential member of the network. And Indeed, Morellet is very clear in pointing out the fact that that only because of her notable qualities was she introduced to society and included in this network.

            The intellectual selectivity of the network paradoxically opened new possibilities for certain writers and artists of a less privileged status. Normally, most of these intellectuals did not have the opportunities to meet or talk casually to noblemen or bourgeois. But as the Enlightenment and the salon promoted equality among people of the same moral and rational level, the world of the nobles came closer to these intellectuals. As Kale points out “writers frequented the salons of the Old Regime to enter the world of the rich and powerful, whose confidence and consideration they sought. It was the only way then that they could hope to have any influence over the principles and conduct of those who dominated the social and political order.”[15] Thus, participation in the salons meant that the intellectuals gained an indirect control over the leading political classes, by shaping their ideals and manner of thinking and protection, pensions, employment[16] from the noble mecenas or from the salonnieres themselves. For instance, Marmontel notes in his mémoires that he received from one of his more influential friends a position, historiographe des batiments, which along with another function ensured him an important sum of money, “un millier d’ecus”: “celle d’historiographe des batiments, que mon ami M. d’Angiviller m’avoit accorde (…), me valoient un millier d’ecus.”[17] This is particularly important, because, as mentioned before, people believed that artistic creations could only be created in otium, apart from active life and from mundane activities. However, ensuring a decent existence solely through intellectual work was often difficult. Thus, the jobs that the intellectuals were offered by their high-ranked friends helped them earn a decent existence and continue their intellectual occupation.  Also, the relationship with the intellectuals benefited the nobles as well, since they were “enlightened” with knowledge and had access to a different type of culture formation, a culture based on conversation and correspondence that would have normally been out of their reach.

Indeed, the conservation of the network was possible only through conversation and correspondence. Conversation was internally linked to participating in the salon. When referring to Julie Lespinasse’s salon, baron de Grimm points out in his mémoires that people could discuss there a diversified and broad variety of topics, due to the salonniere’s ability to integrate all interesting subjects: “Politics, religion, philosophy, anecdotes, news, nothing was excluded from the conversation, and, thanks to her care, the most trivial little narrative gained, as naturally as possible, the place and notice it deserved”.[18] The conversations were an integral part of how people defined culture at those times. Dena Goodman correctly suggests that culture was perceived as polite sociability, which meant “a valued practice within moral and political discourse (…) because it aligned with politeness.”[19] Conversations were necessarily polite and guided by salonnieres or others, because they were not only ways for people in the salons to understand one another, but also means of forming opinion through debate.

Gabriel Lemonnier’s painting Une soiree chez Mme Geoffrin (figure one))[20], created in 1812, is an imaginary reconstruction of of Mme Geoffrin’s meetings and depicts very well the network system and the role of conversation. Fontenelle, Diderot, Marmontel, Montesquieu and the Minister Choiseul are present among the numerous people attending Madame Geoffrin’s evening. In the center of the painting, the Lekain is reading next to Voltaire’s bust, the writer’s most recent work, L’Orphelin de la Chine. Most people are attentive to what he is reading, but we also see men and women in the background talking to one another. Their conversation seems to focus on the reading since these people are continuously looking at Lekain, and on evaluating its flaws, its beauties and, in the end, its worth. Indeed, conversations in the salons mainly revolved around criticizing or applauding new creations and it was through conversation that these works were given or denied value. The relationships and friendships formed in the salon were culturally and intellectually based. Conversation ensured the intellectual stimulus for people in the network, and made them become closer to those of similar literary and artistic taste or way of thinking.                       

  Figure 1                                                                        

When distance came into play, this elevated network, formed in the salon, was sustained by correspondence. Letters demanded reciprocity and promptitude. Correspondence was maintained with people who lived in the same city, or with people that lived in a different country. The eighteenth century was a period of intense letter exchange, since, in accordance with the cosmopolitan ideal of the Enlightenment, people sought to be in constant contact. Madame du Deffand wrote to Horace Walpole, Julie Lespinasse wrote to d’Alembert, but letter-sending was not restricted to only one person. People used to write several long and dense letters each day, which covered a variety of topics: from daily activities, described in depth, to critics or reviews of books. An important part of the letters was however ensuring news about common acquaintances or friends, part of the network, as yet another manner of maintaining contact, even if indirectly. Consequently, the use of correspondence meant that the network was not limited only to a specific place-Paris-, but that it could rather be of European scale.

      Correspondence was not the only factor, though, that contributed to the cosmopolitan of the network.  The salons’ increasing international prestige also contributed to the networks expansion to the European level. Foreign intellectuals and leaders wanted to participate in the salon and become part of the intellectual network constructed by the French. Thus, Madame Geoffrin received people like Comte de Creuz, the Swedish minister, and Gatti, the Italian doctor, Gibbon, Hume, Benjamin Franklin, and even Gustavus III, while Madame d’Epinay received German noblemen or writers, such as Comte de Schonberg and Compte de Friesen, Grimm and d’Holbach; these are only a few of the important names that came to the salon and became part of the elitist network of the Republic of Letters. At the same time, the salonnieres themselves traveled outside France and came in contact with important figures of the European political and intellectual elite or simply maintained constant correspondence with them. As an example, madame Geoffrin visited Poland and its new king, Stanislau II, and Schonbrunn in Vienna, where she met a young Marie Antoinette. She was also in correspondence with Catherine, empress of Russia.[21]

Therefore, the networking system, through the extensive human capital that it mobilized became crucial for the cosmopolitan idea of the Enlightenment. At the basis of the network stood the salon, which put in contact members of different genders and of different social backgrounds. The networks, and the salons, were open to receiving new members, but only those with moral and intellectual values that could enrich the environment. At the same time, the network was maintained through conversation and correspondence. Networking was not limited only to France, but gradually came to engage in an intellectual dialogue most of the hommes de lettres et d’esprit of Europe. This network was not the grindstone for the creation of the Republic of Letters, but also, the first call for modern concepts such as internationalism, cosmopolitism, united Europeanism, in time when the nation-states were yet to arise.

Bibliography

Primary sources:

Deffand, Madame du. Lettres du Madame du Deffand a Horace Walpole,  Londres : Methuen et Cie, 1912.

Grimm, baron de. Mémoires, http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/18salons.html (accessed November 20, 2007).

Lemonnier, Anicet Charles Gabriel. Une soiree chez Mme Geoffrin, 1912,  http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/enlightenment.html (accessed November 20, 2007).

Marmontel, Jean François. Mémoires, vol. 1-3, Genève :Slatkine Reprints, 1967.

Morellet, l’abbé de. Mémoires inédits’, vol. 1-3, Genève : Slatkine Reprints, 1967.

Secondary sources:

Barber, Elinor G. The Bourgeoisie in 18th century France, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1955

Black, Jeremy. Eighteenth century Europe, New York: Saint Martin’s Press, 1999.

Clergue, Helen. French Salons, New York and London: G.P. Putnam’s sons, the Knickerbockers Press, 1907.

Goodman, Dena. The Republic of Letters. A Cultural History of the French Enlightenment, Itacha and London: Cornell University Press, 1994.

Reau, Louis. L’Europe Française au siècle des Lumières, Paris: Editions Albin Michel, 1971.

Roche, Daniel. France in the Enlightenment, transl. Arthur Goldhammer, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England: Harvard University Press, 1998.

Roche, Daniel. Les Republicaines des Lettres, Paris: Fayard, 1988.

 Kale, Steven. French Salons, Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press, 2004.

In the process of constructing this network, the salons played an essential role, as they constantly put people, who later identified themselves as the members of the Republic of Letters, in contact.  The network, created and maintained through the salons, kept the intellectuals connected, even though in different parts of the world, and contributed to the

Marmontel believes that Rousseau, although a brilliant intellectual, was not able to become part of the salon and the network because he was self-centered and incapable of trusting those around him. Marmontel states: “Je l’avois vu dans la société des gens de lettres les plus estimables  accueilli et considéré : ce ne fut pas assez pour lui ; leur celebrite l’offusquoit, il les crut jaloux de la sienne. Leur bienveillance lui fut suspecte. Il commença par les soupçonner et il finit par les noircir.’’[22] By thus speaking, Marmontel does not intend to say that Rousseau did not participate in the salon, nor that he was rejected from it. Rather, Marmontel’s intention is to link Rousseau’s incapacity to truly become member of the network to his lack of trust in other people and of openness toward others. According to Marmontel, Rousseau is self-centered and blind even to the praises of others, which he considers to be signs of hidden envy. Obviously, Marmontel’s opinion about Rousseau is fairly biased, since Rousseau eram cam parte din societate dar in acelasi timp era cam pivot…. clearly Rousseau’s decision to partly avoid the salon was motivated by other reasons than lack of trust, among which his belief that the salon promoted and generated mediocrity.[23]

This in the end brought a rise in literacy, as indicated by the demand for books increased, which lead to the expansion of the printing and publishing sector.

The entrance in the salons and in the network was controlled by the salonnieres, who personally selected the people attending their events in order to ensure an interesting and balanced conversation. The salonnieres were constantly searching for established or new artistes and intellectuals whom they could bring to the network; thus, meeting people with potential made them more than pleased. For instance, in one of her letters, Madame Du Deffand tells Walpole, her pen-pal, how a certain Mister Harcourt had introduced to her the Miller family: “ce fut Milord Harcourt qui m’amena les Millers”[24]. She subsequently mentions: “Je suis convaincue que je connais les plus aimable de votre nation, et qu’aucune autre ne leur ressemble”.[25]

Also, between 1789 and 1799, some of the salonieres were forced by circumstances to flee France and emigrated to other countries, such as England, where they established new salons, thus integrating new people in the network.

Urbanization and the rise of the urban elite were among the factors that significantly contributed to the development of the Enlightenment and of the networking system. The Enlightenment did not necessarily bring an increase in the number of cities, but rather, as Roche points out, “it altered the status quo in many existing ones,”[26] since most cities expanded during this period, a result of migrations from rural areas and of the demographic growth. The cities were important for the Enlightenment in the sense that they developed a new sense of solidarity and network between their residents, while at the same time creating “a new kind of space for living and culture and a new way of interaction”. Indeed, in the city, people lived close to each other and gradually came to converse and form friendships, which led to a rise in sociability. At the same time, printing and publishing took place in the city. In cities, schools were better and more accessible, which meant that more students were going to schools. This in the end brought a rise in literacy, as indicated by the increase in the number of books published. The number of private owners of books rose, while people interested in reading also had access to books, since they either borrowed from friends,  passed them from hand to hand, or went to the library (which was however the privilege of men of letters). Two different styles of reading emerged: an individual one and “one related to social intercourse with family, at the work place or in literary societies.”[27]  In the social sphere, the eighteenth century brought the rise of an urban elite, a middle class formed between the nobility and the bourgeoisie. The urban elite held mostly functions (it included judges, doctors…) in the city or was involved in capitalist, economic activity, which made it a thriving and rising social class. This elite also had cultural preoccupation, owned books and sent their children if not the established universities, like the Sorbonne, they sent them to good schools.

Steven Kale suggests that salons encouraged socializing between the sexes, brought nobles and bourgeois together, and constituted a perfect opportunity for intellectual speculation.

In the process of constructing this network, the salons played an essential role, as they constantly put people, who later identified themselves as the members of the Republic of Letters, in contact.  



 upper middle class, the so-called bourgeoisie that grew from 700,000 or 800,000 in 1700 to 2, 3 million in 1789[28], which, because of its prosperous economic activities, became increasingly eager to have access to power, but also to the social recognition that was constantly denied by the nobles. At the same time, the rising capitalist elite, which encompassed both nobles and bourgeoisie opposed the mercantilism imposed by the state and the absolutist regime itself. Although there was constant pressure for changes, the monarchy remained unwilling and unable to make changes, because reformation would have run counter to the very essence of society, to the very principles on which the society was based[29]. Thus, the eighteenth century was dominated by a constant tension between the monarch and nobles, who were clutching onto hierarchy and their traditional state, and the bourgeoisie and the intellectuals, seeking for reforms. Conflict over the role of privilege and the implication of citizenship/ erau nobli open elite care sustineau intrare burghezilor in luema buna …dominated the key sectors of the economy and generously offered a co-operative hand to the burghezi

Although formal, the gatherings did not lack merriment and irony, which were effectively integrated in the serious conversation.

During the eighteenth century France experienced demographic growth, a result of not only the decrease in mortality rate and epidemics, but also of improvement in hygiene, lifestyle and alimentation. The increase in population as well as the migrations from rural areas to cities were essential

                                                   Economically, commerce and trade were prosperous, as new factories were opening constantly and ports, such as Lille, Lyon, Nancy “breathed life”[30]. Paris and some provincial cities flourished with the rise of new industries, while merchants and artisans gradually became a wealthy and established part of society.

 The salons and its characteristics contributed to constructing the network and the cosmopolite aspect of the Enlightenment.  

The networks kept these intellectuals connected, even though in different parts of the world, and contributed to the constant cultural exchange that characterized the Enlightenment.

Indeed, the Enlightenment brought the rise of the “‘commercial city’ (…) characterized by economic development” and the importance of role and function as opposed to the traditional city, defined by fixed privileges.

During the eighteenth century, the urban population grew due to migrations from rural areas to cities and to the demographic growth. However,

The cosmopolitan ideal of the Enlightenment aimed to incorporate the intellectuals from Europe, not necessarily from the entire world.

At the center of the Enlightenment ideals stood cosmopolitan: a common “habit of mind”[31] that united intellectuals from European countries through shared ideals and through sociability.

The cities were important for the Enlightenment in the sense that they developed a new sense of solidarity and network between their residents, while at the same time creating “a new kind of space for living and culture and a new way of interaction”. In other words, in the city, people lived close to each other and gradually came to converse and form friendships, which led to a rise in sociability. At the same time, printing and publishing took place in the city. Also, schools were more accessible and teachers were better prepared, which stimulated parents to send their children to school. This in the end brought a rise in literacy, as indicated by the increase in the number of books published. The number of private owners of books rose, while people interested in reading also had access to books, since they either borrowed from friends,  passed them from hand to hand, or went to the library (which was however the privilege of men of letters). Two different styles of reading emerged: an individual one and “one related to social intercourse with family, at the work place or in literary societies.”[32]

The Enlightenment did not as much bring an increase in the number of cities, as it mostly“altered the status quo in many existing ones.”[33] Indeed, most of the cities expanded during this period, a result of population migrations from rural areas and of the demographic growth.

since they either borrowed from friends,  passed them from hand to hand, or went to the library (which was however the privilege of men of letters).-suna ciudat

Along with the cities, the urban elites also experienced changes during the eighteenth century. Despite the fact that traditional mentality separated negotium, active life and otium, contemplative existence and considered the merchant or professional activities incompatible to the socio-cultural model of the academy, the urban elites, professionals (“lawyers, doctors and lower clergy”[34]) or la “bourgeoisie de profit” (merchants and commerce/ comerciants) gradually took up the role of intellectuals and help spread the values of the Enlightenment. Not only did these people own private library, but at the same time they maintained social relations with intellectuals, while becoming members of the Academies and of the loges. At the same time, they embody the ideals of the Enlightenment: “ honnete home, rational, libre et laicise dans ses pratiques.”[35] At the same time, they sent their children to good colleges, which in the end, produced not only a certain educational mobility, but also a social one as well, since the noble children came to interact with the bourgeois youth[36].

But the urban elites expanded along Along with the expansion of city life, the urban elites also The urban elites were mostly respected professionals, such as “lawyers, doctors and lower clergy”[37], or were involved in capitalist, economic activities, as merchants and entrepreneurs. This thriving and rising social class aspired for an increase in social mobility, which would have permitted its members to accede to the rank of nobility. Thus, in order to achieve nobility, their tried to adopt the noble prerequisites, such as education, by sending their children to good colleges, which in the end, produced not only a certain educational mobility, but also a social one as well, since the noble children came to interact with the bourgeois youth[38]. At the same time, the urban elites had cultural preoccupations, since they were owners of books, while sharing Enlightenment value such as rationality in lifestyle and a gradual deist approach to religion. Thus, the rise of city cultural life and of the urban elite facilitated the rapid spread and application of Enlightenment ideas…nush ce sa mai zic sa fac o tranzitie decenta…

. Two different styles of reading emerged: an individual one and “one related to social intercourse with family, at the work place or in literary societies.”[39] 

. increase in the number of books published. Urbanization brought a rise in the number of private owners of books, while giving people interested in reading more means of access to books, through the possibility of borrowing from friends or the library (a privilege of the men of letters however) or of passing books from hand to hand.

In the social sphere, the eighteenth century brought the rise of an urban elite, a middle class formed between the nobility and the bourgeoisie.

Cosmopolitan meant that all people are brothers pertaining to the same nation, since there is no superior race and patriotism is a mere prejudge.

At the same time, they sent their children to good colleges, which in the end, produced

not only a certain educational mobility, but also a social one as well, since the noble children came to interact with the bourgeois youth[40].

Anicet Charles Gabriel Lemonnier Le tableau le plus connu de Lemonnier est sans conteste Une Soirée chez madame Geoffrin, exécuté en 1812 pour l’impératrice Joséphine. Ce tableau exposé au Musée des Chateaux de Malmaison et Bois-Préau est une reconstruction imaginaire du salon de Marie-Thérèse Rodet Geoffrin dépeignant, entre autres, le ministre Choiseul, Fontenelle, Montesquieu, Diderot et Marmontel regardant soit leur hôtesse soit un buste de Voltaire dont l’acteur Lekain est en train de lire la pièce

L’Orphelin de la Chine.

network was easily created through the salon since people, once accepted in it, gathered there regularly. /The salon supposed regular meeting between the same people, and thus the network was easily formed.

Not only does Marmontel specify the amount of time that he dedicated to the salon,

but he also emphasizes his pleasure of being part of it and of the bonne compagnie that surrounded him there.

In addition, nobles commanded certain works of art from artists they appreciated and knew personally. Marmontel is again the one to mention how he was commanded such a work: “marechal de Duras, gentilhomme de la chambre en exercise, me demanda si je n’avais rien fait de nouveau, et me temoigna le desir d’avoir a donner a la reine, a Fontainebleau, la nouveaute d’un bel opera.<<Mais je veux que ce soit votre ouvrage>>” [41] Marmontel explains this great favor of the marechal by pointing out that they used to be both members of the Academie. Thus, the network, formed not only in the salons, but also other cultural places (l’Academie) provided intellectuals numerous financial and creative opportunities.

when l’abbé Morellet was attacked by Grimm in his Correspondances littéraires, his retort was not necessarily marked by criticism, but rather by the disappointment that despite the number of years the two had spent together frequenting the same place, Grimm had not developed the courage and trust to complain directly vis-à-vis l’abbé: “cet homme de lettres, objet des méchancetés de M. Grimm, a passé trente ans de sa vie avec lui dans les mêmes sociétés, chez le baron d’Holbach, M. Helvétius, M. Necker, Mme Geoffrin, etc., sans avoir éprouvé de sa part aucune marque de malveillance’’.[42] Morellet is thus complaining about the fact that, although he had believed that thirty years spent together in the same places would have also meant sharing the same values and becoming part of a community, of a network, for Grimm it meant nothing of the sort. Grimm had not only defied friendship, he had also broken the boundaries of trust. This was unacceptable, especially if we consider that most of the people that came to the salons gradually became friends.

                                                                  emphasizes the fact that Rousseau never became truly a member of the network because is partly wrong. For one thing, Rousseau

affirmation quoted above makes it clear that she could only imagine herself being in contact with people of value and it is certainly inconceivable for her to be otherwise, the most distinguished representants of Britain, and of any country in general.

….By expressing her firm conviction of meeting the British elite, Madame de Deffant seems to even refuse to think about the possibility of meeting valueless people. 

intellectuals had to gain Becoming part of the network meant for intellectual

since women as well as men are participating in the event, and one can assume that there is also class mix

Back then, people wrote letters like we nowadays write e-mails:  not just one every day, but several. However, if many of our email are short and specific, their letters were dense and long. 



[1] See Dena Goodman, The Republic of Letters, A cultural history of the French Enlightenment (Cornell University Press, 1994); Steven Kale, French Salons (The John Hopkins University Press), (2004); Helen Clergue, French Salons (New York and London: G.P. Putnam’s sons, the Knickerbockers Press, 1907).

[2] Louis Reau, L’Europe Française au siècle des Lumières (Paris: Editions Albin Michel, 1971), 258.

[3] Elinor G. Barber, The Bourgeoisie in 18th century France (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1955), 21.

[4] Daniel Roche, Les Republicains de Lettres (Paris : Fayard, 1988), 288.

[5] Jeremy Black, Eighteenth century Europe (New York: Saint Martin’s Press, 1999), 246.

[6] Goodman, Dena, The Republic of the Letters. A cultural history of the French Enlightenment (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1994), 91.

[7] Jean Francois Marmontel, Mémoires (Genève : Slatkine Reprints, 1967), 2 : 245.

[8] Marmontel, Memoires, 2: 100.

[9] Helen Clergue, French Salons (New York and London: G.P. Putnam’s sons, the Knickerbockers Press 1907), 150.

[10]  Steven Kale, French Salons (Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press, 2004), 24.

[11] Morellet, Mémoires (Genève : Slatkine Reprints, 1967), 1 : 281-282.

[12]Madame du Deffand, Lettres du Madame du Deffand à Horace Walpole (Londres : Methuen et Cie, 1912), 3 : 298.  

[13] ibid., 298.

[14] Morellet, Memoires, 1: 281.

[15]  Steven Kale, French Salons, 24.

[16] ibid., 25.

[17] Marmontel, Mémoires, 3 : 73.

[18] Baron de Grimm, Memoir, http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/18salons.html (accessed November 20, 2007).

[19] Dena Goodman, The Republic of Letters, 4.

[20] Anicet Charles Gabriel Lemonnier, Une soirée chez Madame Geoffrin, 1812, http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/enlightenment.html (accessed November 20, 2007).

[21] Helen Clergue, French Salons, 141, 327,323.

[22] ibid, vol. 3, 30

[23] Jean Jacques Rousseau, Lettre a d’Alembert, ….bla bla bla.

[24]Madame du Deffand, Lettres du Madame du Deffand à Horace Walpole, Methuen et Cie, (1912), vol. 3,  298  

[25] ibid., 298

[26] Roche, 176

[27] Roche. 199 198

[28] Colin Jones, Bourgeois revolution revivified, edited by Gary Kates The French Revolution, Recent Debates and New Controversies. London and New York, Rutledge, 1998.

[29] ibid., 485

[30] Daniel Roche, France in the Enlightenment, (Harvard University Press, 1998), 142

[32] Roche. 199 198

[33] Roche, 176

[34] Elinor G. Barber, The Bourgeoisie in 18th century France, (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1955), 21

[35] Daniel Roche, Les Republicains de Lettres, (Fayard, 1988), 288

[36] Roche, 430

[37] Elinor G. Barber, The Bourgeoisie in 18th century France, (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1955), 21

[38] Roche, 430

[39] Roche. 199 198

[40] Roche, 430

[41] Marmontel, vol 3, page 41-2.

[42]  l’abbe de Morellet, Memoires, vol. 2, Slatkine Reprints, (1967), 290

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