Like his predecessors of earlier generations, playwright Pierre–Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais—who became an important figure of the late Enlightenment because of the controversy surrounding his work The Marriage of Figaro —believed that a truly rational society would not tolerate arbitrary inequality.
Benjamin Constant (1767–1830) spent the early years of the French Revolution in a post at a minor German court. He moved to Paris in 1795 and became active in French politics (and became the lover of de Staël). He published pamphlets attacking Napoleon but later reconciled to him during the Hundred Days. He then joined the opposition to the restored Bourbon monarchy. The following comes from... Read More »
Bernard of Clairvaux was abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Clairvaux, in Burgundy, France, and a well-known preacher who travelled widely and was involved with many of the most pressing issues of his day, from papal power to the Crusades. The Cistercians were a reformed order who espoused ascetic ideals, and were deeply critical of other orders of monks whose lives were more integrated with... Read More »
The term "bourgeoisie" had many meanings in eighteenth–century France, from the most literal sense of "citizens of a city" to a more sociological meaning of talented and cultivated members of the Third Estate. Some eighteenth–century writers also used the term to refer to merchants. However, it did not yet connote upper–middle–class status or adherence to certain dominant social norms, as the... Read More »
Bhakti poets—who were in some cases lower-caste Hindu women—and their audiences drew emotional sustenance from these verses, which expressed a pure devotion to Hindu deities. Their poetry, written in local languages beginning in the 6th century in South India and the 12th century in North India, attracted large audiences among the marginalized in Hindu society, such as women and “untouchables... Read More »
In the last years of the regime, Pavel Câmpeanu, a prominent sociologist and a lifelong leftist and former prison cellmate of Nicoale Ceauşescu during World War II managed to smuggle out this article, which was published in The New York Review of Books. For his safety, the editors did not publish his name since it was known that the Romanian secret service was quick to punish, even assassinate... Read More »
Phaer was a lawyer and a physician who wrote the first work in English devoted solely to the health of children. It was first published in 1544 and went through many editions. The audience for the book according to Phaer was everyone who cared about children. It is a small book of only 56 pages but it covers most of the common conditions that children suffered – from agues or colds to... Read More »