Dr Jonathan Miller has said that, ‘d’Holbach is an enormously important figure in the history of disbelief’, (BBC Television, A Brief History of Disbelief, 2005).
Through this new translation of d’Holbach’s Christianity Unveiled – the first complete translation from the original French into English, together with a whole host of related documents never before translated – the reader will come to an in-depth appreciation of d’Holbach, the courageous atheist, his society, and the cultural milieu in which he wrote and published. His atheism and criticism of Christianity and sovereigns who pandered to the Church outraged not only the religious establishment but also the state, so much so that he had to publish his work anonymously for fear of being arrested and incarcerated in the Bastille. His radical, outspoken ideas also scandalized famous intellectuals and men of letters of his day, such as Voltaire.
This edition contains a wealth of biographical material on d’Holbach and his circle, previously only available in French. Illustrated and annotated liberally, it sets all the documents in their biblical, historical, philosophical, political and cultural context. Chief amongst the supplementary documents are extracts from Bergier’s voluminous refutation, expressly commissioned by the Catholic Church and published with a special papal blessing in an attempt to counter d’Holbach’s trenchant criticism: Bergier was one of the Church’s foremost intellectual giants.
Christianity Unveiled: A Controversy in Documents also contains a survey of key events in the history and formation of the Christian Church, its in-fighting and ruthlessness in dealing with rival philosophies and with those whom it regarded as heretics. An extensive Glossary of terms and persons mentioned in the translations is also provided.
Never before have d’Holbach’s life and times been set in context in such a scholarly yet highly accessible form, shedding light on this key figure of the Enlightenment in Europe and rescuing from oblivion this momentous work which the Church had sought to bury forever.
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