Indolenza versus Progresso. La costruzione del mito sociopolitico delle nazioni progredite negli scritti dei philosophes

Germana Alberti


The image a nation has of a foreign people is frequently influenced by the cultural works, beliefs and stereotypes created on such people by leading intellectuals. Through the study of two texts by Voltaire and Diderot - the Letters on England and Voyage en Hollande - published respectively at the beginning and at the end of the XVIII century, this article wishes to explore the way the two European peoples, at that time considered a model for progress, were represented. In both works balanced description and deep analysis give way to a narrative style whose main aim is to justify and support, more or less openly, the reformist ideals and programmes of the authors: social ones, in Voltaire’s case, political and aesthetical-anthropological ones in Diderot’s case. A delusive antithesis between things that are dynamic – as the country portrayed – and things that are inert is thus generated.

Parole chiave

collective imagination; otherness; progress; Enlightenment literature; European people; social myths

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Riferimenti bibliografici

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