Lettres sur les Anglais (I-III)
Series: Œuvres complètes de Voltaire
Volume Editors: Nicholas Cronk
Series Collaborators: Geneviève Artigas-Menant, Nicholas Cronk, Nicolas Fréry, Antony McKenna, Gianluca Mori, Anna Marie Roos, Ruggero Sciuto, Nick Treuherz
Publication Date: 2022
The Lettres sur les Anglais (also known as the Lettres philosophiques) is one of the key masterpieces of the European eighteenth century, a manifesto of Enlightenment thinking that helped to shape a way of understanding the world which remains influential to this day. It also marked a turning-point in Voltaire’s career when the poet and dramatist established himself as a prose writer of the first rank.
Drawing on the experiences of his stay in England (1726-1728), the Lettres are made up of a series of short articles, covering a range of themes, from religion and politics to literature, and they aim to present an overall view of contemporary English culture. Voltaire experiments with a new type of cultural history, suggesting the interconnection of religious tolerance, political freedom and a dynamic literary culture.
This edition is the most complete ever produced, and takes as its base text the Lettres philosophiques of 1734, giving full variants from all the other versions published during Voltaire’s lifetime. It includes the original English version, the Letters concerning the English nation, as well as an edition and critical study of the clandestine Lettre sur M. Locke in which Voltaire’s materialist thinking received its fullest expression.
Table of contents
I: Introduction, Letters concerning the English nation (vol.6A, 2022)
II: Lettres philosophiques (vol.6B, 2020)
III: Lettre sur M. Locke (vol.6C, 2020)
Thomas Keymer, Review of English Studies
‘The literary power and historical importance of Voltaire’s early masterpiece have been unquestioned since the early 1900s, when its first scholarly editor, Gustave Lanson, declared it ‘la première bombe lancée contre l’ancien régime’. […] A model of rigorous literary scholarship and handsome material production’. Read the full review here.
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