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Caroline Warman

Published On


Page Range

pp. 355-392

Print Length

37 pages

12. 1823: Naigeon’s Mémoires historiques et philosophiques sur la vie et les ouvrages de Denis Diderot

  • Caroline Warman (author)
In her final chapter, Warman argues that Naigeon’s Mémoires historiques et philosophiques constitutes the first print publication of two of Diderot’s most innovative texts: his Éléments de physiologie and Le Rêve de d’Alembert. Warman first gives a rapid sketch of the Mémoires, revealing how Naigeon provides both a complete history of Diderot’s work and a detailed study of the philosopher’s unpublished manuscripts. Seventy-eight pages of the Mémoires form an intricate mosaic of quotation from the Éléments and Le Rêve as Naigeon cuts, reorders, and knits together both individual sentences and entire passages from each of these works. At the end of this textual collage, Naigeon admits that his abridged version of Diderot’s writing remains inferior to the source text(s). From this, Warman deduces that Naigeon must have had unprecedented access to multiple manuscript variants of the Éléments. By highlighting disparities in lexis and structure between an early St Petersburg draft of the Éléments and a mature draft held in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Warman illustrates how Naigeon fluidly switches between these two manuscript versions within the Mémoires.


Caroline Warman