PositiveThe New York Review of BooksFor the most part [Zaretsky\'s] effort sparkles despite a propensity to quip at all costs (what is the point, for example, of remarking that \'Diderot was a mensch\'?) ... Zaretsky is a great storyteller, however, and he has chosen to tell a story that still astonishes ... Since no secretary wrote down the gist of these conversations, Zaretsky has to piece them together from comments in various letters and memoirs, and he does so almost seamlessly.
Andrew S. Curran
PositiveNew York Review of Books\"Making sense of [several] mercurial works is not easy, and situating them in such a life as Diderot’s is even more challenging, so it is remarkable that in Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely Andrew Curran succeeds admirably in both regards. He is far from the first to take on the task, and he makes no inflated claims for his originality. What he offers is the most accessible version of the life and work of this protean figure who trained for the priesthood and ended up questioning every imaginable orthodoxy ... Although Curran is alert to Diderot’s penchant for constantly interrupting his own train of thought, his emphasis on the philosophical logic of Diderot’s ideas obscures the role of aesthetics in everything that he touched, not just in his art criticism. Curran seems surprised by Diderot’s quest for a moral foundation for the fine arts, but this is only surprising if you fail to recognize that aesthetics was crucial to the transformation of worldview underway in his time ... Curran.. [gives an excellent account] of Diderot’s works and their place in the writer’s life, but the narrative nature of [his account] can obscure his significance for us now.\