Catherine the Great: A Profile by Marc Raeff

By Marc Raeff

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Petersburg and stay there, and, generally, his relationship with the Russian Empress-a relationship between a philosopher and an empress who liked to talk philosophy. The scholar has at his disposal Diderot's own letters from St. Petersburg, Catherine's letters, and letters from persons who were in contact with both of them (Voltaire, Grimm, DashIvan K. Luppol, "Didro i Ekaterina II," in Deni Didro-Ocherki zhizni i mirovozreniia (Moscow, 196o), pp. 91-II5. Translated by Mary Mackler. IVAN K. LUPPOL kova), reminiscences by witnesses to their relationship and, finally, monographs about the events concerned.

Catherine gained her impression of Diderot from his Encyclopedia and grew to like him because of it; she used the first available opportunity to attract attention by buying Diderot's library and giving it to him to use for life, inviting him to be the librarian for a specified annual salary. This was a practical-minded step on her part and it completely achieved its purpose: Diderot's friends, Vol- Intellectual Formation of Catherine II 37 taire, d' Alembert, and Grimm, praised Catherine throughout Europe.

Soon after ascending the throne she invited d'Alembert to come to St. Petersburg and invited him quite persistently. " D'Alembert did not come. Then, on Diderot's recommendation Catherine invited Mercier de la Riviere, the author of De l' ordre nature/ et essentiel des societes policees. "I strongly urge you," she wrote to Count Panin, "to write to Shtakelberg, and if he is no longer in France, then to Golitsyn, so that he will begin discussions with Monsieur de la Riviere about the latter's trip to Russia.

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