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Introduction - Delft 2004

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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter presents an overview of this book, which focuses on a diary kept by a boy named Otto van Eck in the 1790s. The daily entries usually run from one to several paragraphs. They are sometimes rather cryptic, as private notes tend to be, but taken altogether they represent one of the earliest and most extensive children's diaries found in Europe to date. This unique body of writing allowed us to explore the eighteenth century through the eyes of a child, an experience that required us to become thoroughly acquainted with his world. Otto's parents were not philosophers. Their own homespun Enlightenment was based on what they heard and read. The book deals with their Enlightenment and the application of its ideals in their own household. They penned no publications for us to scrutinise, but we can examine the concrete result of one of their projects: Otto's diary.

Keywords: Enlightenment; Europe; Otto van Eck



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