Émilie du Châtelet, forgotten encyclopédiste?

Voltaire Foundation

Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, marquise du Châtelet (1706-1749), portrait by Maurice Quentin de la Tour. (Wikipedia.org) Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, marquise du Châtelet (1706-1749), portrait by Maurice Quentin de la Tour. (Wikipedia.org)

Émilie du Châtelet was a great many things: mathematician, natural philosopher, translator of Newton, successor of Leibniz and Wolff, lover and scientific companion of Voltaire, and various other sundry pursuits. She was not, however, nor is she today, widely considered as a contributor to the Encyclopédie. No mention of her is made in either D’Alembert’s “Discours préliminaire”, or in any of the other “Avertissements & Errata” paratexts that accompanied the Encyclopédie’s publication. Logically then, she is also not to be found in any of the exhaustive lists and inventories of encyclopaedic authors compiled by later scholars such as Richard Schwab and Frank Kafker.[1]

This accepted wisdom, however, is now being brought into question thanks to renewed interest in Du Châtelet not merely as a translator…

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Acerca de Leoncio López-Ocón
Historiador. Investigador del Instituto de Historia del Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales del CSIC. Madrid.

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