This book is a comprehensive and engaging account of the society and culture of the German Enlightenment. Focusing on the social environment of ideas in Germany during the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Van Dulmen chronicles the emergence and growth of the many different societies, clubs and associations of the Enlightenment - from language societies to the masonic lodges, from the reading circles to secret societies.
Van Dulmen shows how these new forms of organization provided an important focal point for the articulation of a great variety of interests. He argues that these various societies constituted a unified movement out of which, he suggests, emerged a bourgeois elite that was self-confident not only culturally, but also socially and politically.
This book would be of interest to students and researchers in European history, especially of the Early Modern period, historians of Enlightenment culture and society, and students and researchers in German studies.
Richard Van Dulmen is the author of Theatre of Horror (Polity Press, 1990).
Introduction. 1. Enlightenment and Traditional Society in the Eighteenth Century. 2. Learned and Literary Societies in the Seventeenth Century. 3. The Republic of Scholars. 4. Association of 'Civilized' Men. 5. Clubs of the Enlightenment and Political Associations. 6. Societies of the Enlightenment as Media of Early Middle-class Culture. Appendix. Bibliography. Index.