Books are written to entertain and to inform, and during the Enlightenment, accounts of other worlds became popular as trade routes, scientific and leisure travel to faraway places made the world seem smaller. Books on 'outer worlds', classified in libraries as 'historia', were very important in conveying distinct perceptions of peoples, places and cultures to readers. These encounters fed into a general eighteenth-century interest in individualization, progress and tolerance.
Libraries and Enlightenment. Eighteenth-Century Norway and the Outer World explores how the broader world was presented to a Norwegian audience by means of both statistical analysis of books on 'the other' in Enlightenment libraries, and a consideration of how peoples were portrayed in the works. Book distribution was very uneven, and the views promoted particularly by bestsellers were as multifaceted as the Enlightenment itself as the texts expressed both prejudice and admiration.