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Letters on England

by Voltaire

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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9571218,145 (3.6)7
Inspired by Voltaire's two-year stay in England (1726-8), this is one of the key works of the Enlightment. Exactly contemporary with Gulliver's Travels and The Beggar's Opera, Voltaire's controversial pronouncements on politics, philosophy, religion, and literature have place the Lettersamong the great Augustan satires.Voltaire wrote most of the book in English, in which he was fluent and witty, and it fast became a bestseller in Britain. He re-wrote it in French as the Lettres philosophiques, and current editions in English translate his French. This edition restores for the modern reader Voltaire's own Englishtext, allowing us to appreciate him as a stylist at first hand. It is the only critical edition of the original text and, as well as providing an introduction and notes, it includes intriguing accounts of Voltaire by contemporary English ovservers.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
It is a series of essays written by Voltaire based on his experiences living in England between 1726 and 1729. It was published first in English in 1733 and then in French the following year, where it was seen as an attack on the French system of government and was rapidly suppressed.

In some ways, the book can be compared with Democracy in America by Alexis De Tocqueville, in how it flatteringly explains a nation to itself from the perspective of an outsider, as Voltaire's depictions of aspects of English culture, society and government are often given favourable treatment in comparison to their French equivalents. ( )
  Marcos_Augusto | Aug 28, 2021 |
I was completely surprised at how great this was. I haven't read Candide in 25 or more years and had forgotten how well Voltaire wrote. Would be 5 stars but that last letter, yeesh, complete slog. ( )
  encephalical | Mar 21, 2021 |
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 |
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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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Inspired by Voltaire's two-year stay in England (1726-8), this is one of the key works of the Enlightment. Exactly contemporary with Gulliver's Travels and The Beggar's Opera, Voltaire's controversial pronouncements on politics, philosophy, religion, and literature have place the Lettersamong the great Augustan satires.Voltaire wrote most of the book in English, in which he was fluent and witty, and it fast became a bestseller in Britain. He re-wrote it in French as the Lettres philosophiques, and current editions in English translate his French. This edition restores for the modern reader Voltaire's own Englishtext, allowing us to appreciate him as a stylist at first hand. It is the only critical edition of the original text and, as well as providing an introduction and notes, it includes intriguing accounts of Voltaire by contemporary English ovservers.

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