The book, which can also be read for free online, is a collection of extracts from essays by Enlightenment thinkers on the subject of tolerance. All the passages have been translated into English by the staff and students of the Oxford French sub-faculty.
In Somerville, second-year students Ruth Akinradewo, James Aldred, Pauline Chatelan, Emma Beddall, Harriet Fry, Jonny Lawrence, Sarah Bridge, Harriet Dixon and Beverley Noble worked together under the supervision of Prof Simon Kemp to translate one of the chapters in the volume, an account from Rétif de la Bretonne’s 1788 memoir, Paris Nights, of how the author rescued a man accused of heresy from an angry mob on a religious witch-hunt.
Dr Caroline Warman of the Faculty of Medieval & Modern Languages, who led the project, said: “We hope people will be excited by the texts and that it will help them to reflect on the world we live in now.”
“We want this book to reach people thinking about tolerance and intolerance, and to inspire them to connect with our history, as they discover that major European thinkers of the past also wrote passionately about these topics.
“So many students and colleagues wanted to be involved in this project. We thought it was something we could do to show our support for France and for all countries in the world affected by these issues.
“I wrote the preface for the book in the week after the recent attacks in Paris and it was very difficult to do – I had to acknowledge what had happened but I tried not to be too emotional about it.”
The Somerville contributors, like all the other students who worked on the volume, are currently on their year abroad, but the Faculty is planning to hold a celebration with them on their return to Oxford next October.