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Caroline Warman

Published On


Page Range

pp. 319-334

Print Length

15 pages

10. 1798, 1802: Naigeon, the OEuvres de Diderot, and the Censored Preface to Montaigne

  • Caroline Warman (author)
This chapter considers Naigeon’s approach to and feelings towards his role as Diderot’s literary executor, as well as examining Naigeon’s general remarks about the editorial process. Within the preface to his fifteen-volume Œuvres de Diderot, Naigeon refers to himself as Diderot’s ‘censor’ and emphasises his duty to exercise judgement regarding which manuscripts to publish and which to suppress. In particular, he harshly criticises two of Diderot’s novels (Jacques le fataliste and La Religieuse) by describing their severe lack of unified thought. Warman argues here that Naigeon’s desire for textual ‘oneness’ echoes a Diderotian motif that appears across the philosopher’s corpus of work, including his Éléments de physiologie. A similar commentary on the role of editor can be found in Naigeon’s original preface to a new edition of Michel de Montaigne’s Essais, which was censored and suppressed due its anti-authoritarian content. Analysing a passage within which Naigeon celebrates the editor’s ability to bring any text to a state of perfection, Warman shows how Naigeon positions the work of the editor above that of the writer. For Warman, these comments provide a useful framework through which to examine Naigeon’s Mémoires, which is discussed in Chapter Twelve of The Atheist’s Bible.


Caroline Warman