Book presentation of Hans Bots’ De Republiek der Letteren
On 2 March, Hans Bots’ De Republiek der Letteren. De Europese intellectuele wereld, 1500-1760 will be presented in the Vossiuszaal of Leiden University Library. This book is a Dutch translation of the revised edition of Hans Bots en Françoise Wacquet’s La République des Lettres, which was first published in 1997 (Paris: Belin/Brussels: De Boeck). Paul Hoftijzer will receive the first copy.
Since Erasmus’ time, the term ‘Republic of Letters’ has been used to describe the virtual community of scholars, which in principle was open to all and which should transcend national and religious boundaries. A common language was used in this intellectual environment, initially Latin and, from the seventeenth century onwards, French. This ‘republic’, which was mainly limited to Western Europe, had until the middle of the eighteenth century a large number of separate cultural centres connected to each other. There was undeniably a prominent role for France and the Dutch Republic, but the ideal of a harmonious ‘republic’ was usually utopian.
In De Republiek der Letteren Hans Bots shows how events in these three centuries came into contact with each other through personal encounters during university studies, correspondence, and book and magazine publications. In this way, an extensive and intriguing network of underline relations formed, which is at the basis of European academic culture.