This book examines the rhetorical dimension of eighteenth-century natural history. It focuses on the French naturalist and literary stylist Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon, author of the bestselling multi-volume Histoire naturelle (1749-1789). Natural history as Buffon and his contemporaries knew it remains a fascinating object of study for its breadth, its cultural openness, and its disorderly energy. Rhetoric here is understood as a set of techniques for attracting and persuading an audience. As a contribution both to literary studies and to the history of science, Rhetoric and natural history adds to our understanding of the intellectual culture of the French Enlightenment.
'Ce livre [...] représente une étude subtile et intéressante de l'œuvre d'une très grande figure des Lumières.'
Revue de synthèse