Writing a biography of a book ? The case of Gabriel Cramer's \textit{Introduction à l'analyse des lignes courbes algébriques

Abstract : Gabriel Cramer began writing his Introduction à l'analyse des lignes courbes algébriques in 1740, but waited 1750 to publish it. This is the project of a lifetime, and I believe it's interesting to retrace the entire history of Cramer's masterwork following two directions : on the one hand, reconstructing as far as possible the material history of this book (drafts and versions, corrections and improvements, publication and dissemination), and on the other hand, studying its conceptual history from its filiation with other mathematical texts of the 17th and early 18th century, to its critical reception in the 19th and 20th centuries. In my attempt of writing a biography of this book, I have to deal with various sources (registers, drafts and manuscripts, correspondence, articles, reviews, etc.) and explore different scales of space and temporality. First I consider the life and works of its author (in a « classical » biographical work) and shed light on the social, scientific, intellectual context in which he evolved (the exercise of science in Geneva in the early 18th century, in relation with the main centers of the Republic of Letters). Secondly, I focus on the book itself : filiation with previous works (namely Newton's Enumeratio, amongst others), drafts and versions, methods and objects, implicit or explicit references. Finally I examine the reception of the book from its publication to the early 20th century, discussing the various ways it has been read through the years. In my presentation I shall try to share the challenges, questions and difficulties raised by this original approach.
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Contributor : Thierry Joffredo <>
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Thierry Joffredo. Writing a biography of a book ? The case of Gabriel Cramer's \textit{Introduction à l'analyse des lignes courbes algébriques. 25th Novembertagung on the History of Mathematics, Nov 2014, Nancy, France. ⟨halshs-01237221⟩



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