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About the author:
Ronald W. Kenyon was born and raised in Ashland, Kentucky. He was admitted to the Honors Program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he studied English, Spanish and political science and won two Hopwood creative writing awards. The recipient of a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship, he attended graduate school at Stanford University and studied at St. Lawrence University under a National Defense Education Act scholarship. He was certified as a French-English liaison interpreter by the U.S. Department of State Office of Language Services.

Ronald W. Kenyon has conducted extensive research into François Racine de Monville at the French National Library and the French National Archives. Much of the material in Monville: forgotten Luminary of the French Enlightenment has not appeared in print for over a century.

Ronald W. Kenyon is the webmaster and curator of the Racine de Monville Home Page [] and curates the Gardens in France page on the website.

The French translation of this book was published in 2014 under the title Monville : l'inconnu des Lumières.

Also by Ronald W. Kenyon:

Divagations: Collected Poetry 1959-1996
A Winter in the Middle of Two Seas: Real Stories from Bahrain
Le Petit Kenyon: Dining in the Environs of Paris for Walkers
Statues of Liberty: Real Stories from France
On the Trail in France


Metro Portraits
Metro Messages
My Beautiful France: Landscapes
Île-de-France, terres d'inspiration
France Images & Messages


Forgotten Luminary of the French Enlightenment

Authored by Ronald W. Kenyon

François Racine de Monville (1734-1797), a virtuoso musician, sportsman, architect and epicurean, was a quintessential representative of the French Enlightenment, a luminary among a constellation of luminaries. Unlike many of his contemporaries, however, Monsieur de Monville fell into oblivion.

The author has conducted extensive research to paint a portrait of Monville and place him in the context of the political, social and artistic movements at the end of the 18th century.

The pages of this book are populated with Monville's friends and acquaintances. The reader will discover princes and paupers, playwrights and prostitutes, philosophers and pirates, ambassadors and actresses, feminists and Freemasons. The author also focuses on the Americans living in Paris at the end of the 18th century—including four future presidents of the United States—who traveled in the circles Monville frequented.

Many celebrities were Monville's guests at his sumptuous Paris townhouse or at his country estate, the Désert de Retz, at Chambourcy, with its unique Column House, considered "the most interesting building of the eighteenth century."

The text is enhanced with three engravings of the Désert de Retz by Constant Bourgeois dating from 1808. A hitherto unpublished poem by Beaumarchais dedicated to Monville is included in an appendix.

This new edition incorporates additional anecdotes from the life of Monville, recounted by his contemporaries and unpublished for over a century. The index has been expanded to twelve pages and the bibliography now contains over three score references.

Praise for the first edition of Monville: Forgotten Luminary of the French Enlightenment

A reader in the United States: “The ironic last sentence was perfect. One thing for sure is that I'm even more determined to visit the Desert because of the book. What an incredibly interesting man and what a life."
Readers in France: “Je voulais vous dire toute mon admiration pour le travail fabuleux que vous avez effectué ainsi que pour la qualité de cette œuvre que je parcours avec le plus grand intérêt.”
“Votre livre est pétri de tendresse pour la France.”
A reader in the United Kingdom: “You are giving me lots of micro-biographies of people I'd never heard of and therefore ought not to be interested in; logically I should be bored stiff, but in fact not at all. Don't know how you do it but the damn thing is highly readable!”
A reader in Mexico: "I finished your wonderful book yesterday and I am truly delighted. I really adored it! It was like a trip in Time and Space. I could imagine myself in those places with the people you talk about."

Publication Date:
148114829X / 9781481148290
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
5.5" x 8.5"
Black and White
Related Categories:
Biography & Autobiography / Historical / General

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