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Caroline Warman

Published On


Page Range

pp. 213-230

Print Length

17 pages

7. 1794: ‘Le citoyen Garron’, the Comité d’instruction publique, and the Lost Manuscript of the Éléments de physiologie

  • Caroline Warman (author)
On 24 March 1794, the Comité d’instruction publique received a letter and full-length manuscript of Diderot’s Éléments de physiologie from a so-called ‘citoyen Garron’. Warman considers the fate of this floating manuscript, which remains unlocated to this day, and addresses the mystery of its keeper’s identity. The Comité published numerous decrees relating to the preservation of valuable manuscripts during the year 1974, and had adopted a proposal specifically regarding the creation of an arts and sciences inventory just nine days before Garron’s letter was sent. Due to the ground-breaking contents of the Éléments as well as Diderot’s own prominence, Warman argues that this particular manuscript was most likely intercepted or stolen rather than merely lost in the Comité’s vast network of archiving and cataloguing. Warman then presents several candidates for the enigmatic ‘Garron’ figure, suggesting that the name may have been mistranscribed or even a homonym. Although no concrete conclusion can be drawn from such circumstantial evidence, Warman tentatively proposes that Dominique-Joseph Garat, who was both an active member of the Republican government and a personal acquaintance of Diderot, is the most plausible contender for this role.


Caroline Warman