Diderot had a lifelong preoccupation with different aspects of memory, including the ways in which memory may preserve the past and help to ensure the individuals posthumous survival. But he wrote no autobiography, perhaps because he was sure that the works he had left unpublished during his lifetime, which accounted for the bulk of his literary output, would guarantee his immortality. He instructed his mistress Sophie Volland to inform her mother, who mistrusted him, that ‘la plus grande considération dans la mémoire des hommes m’est assurée’, 1 and told the sculptor Falconet that the thought of posterity contemplating his image ‘élève mon âme, et la porte toujours à quelque action qui me paraît digne de rester dans la mémoire des siècles à venir’. 2 The pragmatic Falconet is unlikely to have been impressed by this, particularly as he consistendy claimed to care nothing about posthumous fame himself: the only regard he wanted was in the present, because it ensured his prosperity. Diderot’s long correspondence with him on the subject of ‘le sentiment de l’immortalité ou le respect de la postérité’ reveals his shock at the sheer mercantilism of Falconet’s attitude, though the dialogue Le Rêve de d’Alembert suggests that he was also able to view it ironically.