A Wicked Company by Philipp Blom
The Paris salon of Paul-Henri Thiry, Baron d'Holbach - where friendship and radical philosophy flourished throughout the 1760s - stands as a seminal event in Western history. Over wine-soaked dinner parties, the finest minds of the Western world matched wits and scandalized one another with their radical ideas. Holbach's house became an epicenter of free thinking, a place like no other in repressive eighteenth-century Europe, frequented by men and women united by their love of intellectual freedom, their contempt for the conventional, and often the danger of persecution. It was a moment of astonishing radicalism in European thought, so uncompromising and bold that its vision has still not been fully realized.
In A Wicked Company, acclaimed historian Philipp Blom describes the fortunes of this group of friends: writers of genius all, full of wit and courage, but also personal contradictions, doubts, conflicts of conscience, and their fair share of arguments and love affairs. Their bracing, liberating, humanist vision bursts free of the page in Blom's telling, and their analysis of our culture remains as valid as it was then. A startlingly relevant work of narrative history, Wicked Company forces us to confront with new eyes modern debates about our society and its future.
McClelland & Stewart: 2010.
ISBN: 9780771016356. 336 pp.
Hardcover. Very good.