In the eighteenth century, libertinism did not mean mere rakishness. It was a means of engaging enlightenment and could forward the politics of liberty. It had two aspects, on the one hand it meant sexual freedom and on the other philosophical free-thinking. In these terms it gradually lost connection to aristocratic privilege, and became available to women as well as to men. This ground-breaking volume explores the connections between libertinism and enlightenment in a wide variety of European and British contexts which cross the barrier between high and low culture. Case studies include the famous Regency courtesan Harriette Wilson; the transatlantic adventurer Con Phillips; the confidence tricksters, Cagliostro and Jeanne La Motte; the first modern radical politician, John Wilkes; the cosmopolitan rake, Casanova; the sentimental novelist, Laurence Sterne; and the great philosophers, Voltaire and Kant. Libertine Enlightenment will expand our understanding of the role of libertine sexualities in the formation of modern culture.

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