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Letters on England by Voltaire
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Letters on England

by Voltaire

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8181017,268 (3.59)7
Also known as the Lettres anglaises ou philosophiques, Voltaire's response to his exile in England offered the French public of 1734 a panoramic view of British culture. Perceiving them as a veiled attack against the ancien regime, however, the French government ordered the letters burned and Voltaire persecuted.… (more)

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English (7)  Italian (2)  Dutch (1)  All languages (10)
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
It's somewhat interesting to see Voltaire's views of contemporary developments in England. The letters on the Quakers and on Newton were my favorite. The Quakers had a culture very different from that of France, and Newton's Principia was changing how people thought about the world at the time of Voltaire's writing.

Oddly, it seems that Voltaire originally penned his letters in English before translating them into the French that I managed to get a copy of. I'm curious how Voltaire wrote in English. ( )
  EthanRogers | Jul 12, 2019 |
This piqued my interest in Voltaire's non-fiction writing. Previously, I had only read Candide. From this point forward, I plan to explore more of his writings-- he is a dutiful and fulfilling writer.

A commendable effort. Good show. ( )
  DanielSTJ | Dec 17, 2018 |
Some of the letters are interesting and others are missable (generally the former are those with fewer large quotes and the latter with more). I could have done with far less concern about religion and theatre and more about about almost any other topic. ( )
  thsutton | May 18, 2018 |
I love Voltaire, always have. Voltaire is humorous, sarcastic and opinionated, and like his other works, there is a unique style that fully captures his character. In this work, he addresses Quakers, Parliament, literature, smallpox vaccination, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Government, Commerce, and many other subjects. He also expresses his profound respect for John Locke and Francis Bacon, and especially for Isaac Newton. Although most his arguments are of course outdated, the book definitely gives the reader a glimpse into the 18th c. enlightened mind. However some remain relevant today, and the reader may even find one on which to find common ground. Although still a man of his time, it is always surprising to read how open-minded he was. ( )
  asukamaxwell | Mar 10, 2014 |
Voltaire said of England: "If every I smell of a Resurrection, or come a second time on Earth, I will pray to God to make me born in England, the Land of Liberty."
In the two years or so he was here for, he fell in love with the island across the Channel from his native homeland, and wrote Letters Concerning the English Nation. In it he surveys all of English politics and culture, using irony and his own reasoning in questioning the norms throughout his work, and I like his playful style and allusiveness.
Among his key themes, is religion, in which Voltaire notes that "A man should never attempt to win over a fanatic by strength of reasoning." He argues not against religion, but against the public dominance of any specific religion, or the public conflict between them. "The Romans never knew the dreadful folly of religious wars, and abomination reserved for devout preachers of patience and humility.
His account of English political liberty implies that France has a long way to go in regards to rational and restrained government, but then he writes that the "house of Lords and that of the Commons divide the legislative power under the King," Voltaire is making a statement about the ideal form of English constitutionalism at a time when it was under debate in England.
Culturally, he attempts to catalogue the intellectual and cultural heroes of England, such as Locke, Bacon, Newton and Shakespeare, arguing that it's the intellectual geniuses who push a civilisation forward as opposed to kings and military leaders. ( )
1 vote HolmesGirl221b | Nov 27, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Voltaireprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Caput, Jean-PolIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Constantine, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
De la Tour, Maurice QuentinCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Naves, RaymondEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pomeau, RenéChronologysecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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