This profusely illustrated, twenty-eight-volume French encyclopedia was edited by Denis Diderot and Jean d'Alembert, with the aid of Quensay, Montesquieu, Voltaire, J. J. Rousseau, Turgot, and others. It was published between 1751 and 1775. Its famous preliminary discourse, signed by d'Alembert, indicates its aims and then presents definitions and histories of science and the arts. Despite attacks by the Jesuits and unofficial censorship by the printer, it was an immediate success. It championed the skepticism and rationalism of the Enlightenment and played a major role in the intellectual preparation for the French Revolution. In 1780 a five-volume supplement and two-volume index were added.
Illustrated: plate 1, volume 8, "Relieur": procedures for binding a book