Voltaire historiographer

narrative paradigms

Author: Síofra Pierse

Volume: 2008:05

Series: SVEC

Publication Date: 2008

Pages: 297

ISBN: 978-0-7294-0932-2

Price: £65


Voltaire’s historical works reflect his own changing roles and preoccupations from conteur to campaigner. His groundbreaking historical output of thirty-eight texts, composed throughout his long career as a writer, is now receiving renewed critical attention.

In the first study to explore the whole range of Voltaire’s writings in this domain, Síofra Pierse looks at the irreducible ambiguity of the term histoire, both factual truth and the way it is represented – ‘history’ and ‘story’. She discusses how Voltaire’s theories of history interact with other, more literary considerations, and analyses how a search for truth overlaps with a desire to create a compelling narrative that engages the reader in a deeper, collaborative, and polemical project.

In Voltaire historiographer: narrative paradigms, Síofra Pierse brings to light how the philosophe exploits the potential of history not simply to record the past, but to influence the present and shape the future.

List of abbreviations
Introduction: Historiographerie
I. Narrative
1. The historiographer
2. The author
3. The reader
II. Story
4. Digressions
5. Heroics
III. Truth
6. Fact and fable
7. Truth and doubt
Conclusion: beyond history
Appendix: Corpus summary


Cahiers Voltaire

La force de Voltaire historiographer vient de ses analyses systématiques de la rhétorique de Voltaire, qui permettent à l’auteur de nous montrer un Voltaire plus subtil dans ses stratégies de narrer l’histoire que ses contemporains et ses prédécesseurs.[…] Ce livre vient à point après les livres et articles récents […] sur les histoires de Voltaire, et pose des jalons pour de nouvelles recherches, qu’elles soient plus théoriques ou littéraires, sur les récits historiques de Voltaire.

Voltaire Foundation

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