There has been considerable debate over whether the Enlightenment represented a series of national advances in philosophical and scientific learning or was a truly pan-European phenomenon. Newton's Optics was translated from English into Latin and then French at the beginning of the century, paving the way for a linguistically and culturally diverse scientific readership throughout the century. Another example is the brilliantly illustrated work on cicadas by Caspar Stoll that includes parallel text in French and Dutch. Conversely, classical works on natural science such as Pliny's Natural History were also translated from the original Latin, represented here in a bilingual French-Latin edition. Related to this exploration of the natural world was the documenting of voyages of discovery in travel journals that often included bilingual sections of text or examples of foreign languages. These further highlight the connections between a widespread discourse on the "foreign" and an increasingly integrated European readership.

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