The Enlightenment The advocation of reason
The Enlightenment was the predominant background for European literature in fiction and philosophy among other fields in the 18th century. The Enlightenment was driven forward through many great men in different areas. Isaac Newton and Galileo Galilei made important and astonishing breakthroughs in science. Adam Smith was responsible for new economical ideas. Denis Diderot would be the main editor of the Encyclopédie in which all human knowledge was assembled. Baron de Montesquieu and Voltaire were spreading ideas of philosophy which also made impact in politics. Political ideas like theirs would inspire the American politician Thomas Jefferson that would lead to the Declaration of Independence in America and ideas of Enlightenment would finally culminate in the French Revolution that was get underway in 1789.
Notable writers in the 18th Century
English writers like Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift and Henry Fielding may be the most known among novel writers in the 18th century, but there is of course more authors worth mentioning. In another culture super power at the time, France, writers like Marquis de Sade and Pierre Choderlos de Laclos achieved big controversy with scandalous novels beacause of the open sexual contents. De Laclos is most known for Les Liaisons dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons, 1782) that later had been adapted for the cinema at several occasions (and maybe most successful in 1988 in a film with the same name as the novel). Marquis de Sade has also remained in the popular culture, perhaps more for his life as a libertine than for his literary work, even though a novel such as The 120 Days of Sodom (Les 120 Journées de Sodome ou l'école du libertinage, 1904) is recognizable by many.