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Protest and Dissent

Conflicting Spaces in Translation and Culture


Edited By Agnieszka Pantuchowicz and Anna Warso

Essays collected in this book discuss textual and discursive formulations of dominance and resistance. The authors analyze how they are narrated and re-narrated, framed and reframed in different social, political and language communities and realities, through different media and means, and translated into different contexts and languages. As the ways we name, rename, or label events, people and places have implications in the real world, the essays are also meant to investigate the ways in which we partake in negotiating its construction, its changing meanings and senses through the stories we tell and the practices we live by.

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“Raining bombs in the house of the Lord”: A Note on Translation and Dissent in the Work of Baron d’Holbach


Patrick Leech

“Raining bombs in the house of the Lord”:

A Note on Translation and Dissent in the Work of Baron d’Holbach

Abstract: This paper looks at translation as a strategy of dissent in the Enlightenment, focusing on the translations of Baron d’Holbach and his “coterie.” It emphasizes the centrality of translation to the concerns of the radical Enlightenment, the active and purposeful orientation of the translator, and the inbuilt cosmopolitanism of dissent.

Keywords: D’Holbach, radical enlightenment, cosmopolitanism, materialism, atheism

Recent work on the Enlightenment has emphasized a split between a moderate Enlightenment represented by figures such as Locke, Montesquieu and Voltaire, and a radical, materialist and republican strand in the work, for example, of Spinoza, Toland, Bayle, Diderot, and d’Holbach (Israel 2001, 2006, 2011; Jacob 1981; Ducheyne 2017). This radical approach was based on the heterodox notion, common to some religious dissenters, atheists and deists in England and elsewhere and deriving in particular from the work of Spinoza, that the world was composed of one substance (matter). This view contested the prevailing one, legitimated by the Church, of a division into matter and spirit (Israel 2001, 251–52). If the Enlightenment in general was a form of dissent with regard to prevailing political and religious orthodoxies, this radical enlightenment, promoting deism or atheism in religion, republicanism in politics and materialism in philosophy (Israel 2001, vi), was not only dissenting but subversive. In France, a crucial moment in this dissent...

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