January 5th, 2013

atheist teacher

Things that catch the eye

I'm a short way into A Wicked Company, which is primarily about Diderot and the Baron d'Holbach, but so far the salient things I've learned are:

Philippe I, Duke of Orleans was a cross-dressing 'notorious' homosexual and successful military commander. He also carried out his familial obligations, producing Philippe II, Duke of Orleans, who was an atheist. As Regent, the younger Philippe opposed censorship and pursued other enlightened reforms that never really went anywhere.

Finally, Rousseau really liked to be spanked.

Chivalry was not dead

"[Diderot] also defended [his wife] in front of outsiders who made the mistake of taking the discord between husband and wife, and her ignorance and piety, for a license to ridicule. When one of his literary friends made fun of Toinette's lack of education and her superstitiousness, Diderot reminded him that there were several main rules of good satire, the last and most important one being that it was better to shut up than to be thrown out of the 'fucking window.'"