Early in 1788, Franz Anton Mesmer, a Viennese physician, arrived in Paris and began to promulgate a somewhat exotic theory of healing that almost immediately seized the imagination of the general populace. Robert Darnton, in his lively study of mesmerism and its relation to eighteenth-century radical political thought and popular scientific notions, provides a useful contribution to the study of popular culture and the manner in which ideas are diffused down through various social levels.
A fascinating study of the effects that the theories of the notorious Viennese physician, Franz Mesmer, had upon social and political thinkers during the two decades preceding the French Revolution. This book is a skillful exploration of the various psychological factors that made mesmerism a widely accepted attitude… [The book] will interest literary scholars as well as historians since mesmerism is examined as a phenomenon that bequeathed an attitude that found its expression in the writings of the preromantics and the romantics.
This is an excellent book and one of singular interest both to the historian of science and to the French historian.
[An] excellent and exemplary study in the history of ideas. Based on a thorough study of manuscripts, pamphlets, and journals, learned in its broad setting and persuasive in its internal logic, supported by richly relevant quotations and reproductions of contemporary engravings, Mesmerism and the End of the Enlightenment in France provides a commendable model for those interested in the way ‘true’ and ‘false’ ideas interact and broadly influence behavior.
- 232 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 inches
- Harvard University Press
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