The eighteenth-century English dictionaries of arts and sciences claimed to contain all knowledge that a person of education should possess. These early encyclopaedias responded to the explosion of information by reducing knowledge to essentials, stressing the need for a coherent account of the sciences, and for some time excluding biography and history. Richard Yeo places these scientific dictionaries in a rich cultural framework of debate that includes the arrangement of knowledge, the Republic of Letters, the Enlightenment public sphere, copyright issues, and the specialisation of science. He discusses dilemmas involved in the quest for knowledge to be both organised and readily available, examining assumptions about the organisation, communication, and control of knowledge in these works. Elegantly illustrated and accessibly written, Encyclopaedic Visions provides a major contribution to Enlightenment studies and the history of ideas in general.
RICHARD YEO is Associate Professor (Reader) in the School of Humanities, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia.