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Diderot And The Publicizing Of Censorship

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Chapter Summary

During the second half of the eighteenth century, Diderot was to become one of the best analysts and practitioners of reading and writing under the constraints of censorship. This chapter first points out the way in which Diderot analyzed the failure of such censorship, to the extent that, in his view, it only contributed to incite interest in what it intended to prohibit. Next, it considers how, in his own writings, Diderot developed a very particular use of censorship which consisted in making it public, in unveiling it the better to elude it. Furthermore, the chapter argues that Diderot was perfectly aware of the interpretative muddle that could finally result from such double-layered writing. This leads the author, in conclusion, to examine Diderot's dream of another use of censorship, namely 'public censorship', which, rather than constraining, would expose everything.

Keywords: Diderot; double-layered writing; public censorship



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