Letters on England


After his three-year exile to England (1726-9) following imprisonment in the Bastille for his satirical writings, Voltaire wrote a series of letters offering the French public a panoramic view of English culture. He was full of enthusiasm and freedom – as opposed to the tyrannical feudal society of his homeland. Letters on England discusses English religious sects, politics, scientists and writers with great admiration, yet the clever Voltaire also flattered his French readers with humorous references to the old-fashioned clothes and speech of the Quakers and to antics in the House of Commons. At first banned in France, this intriguing and often comic account of a culture viewed through foreign eyes was to prove highly influential in shaping French attitudes to England.

Leonard Tancock’s translation brilliantly captures Voltaire’s ironic tone, and is accompanied by an introduction discussing his depiction of England and the events that led to his exile. This edition also includes notes, new further reading and chronology, and an appendix on Voltaire’s verse translation of English works.

status Copy #1 (1466): in
genre Philosophy » General Philosophy
publisher Penguin Classics
publish date 1734 (this edition 1980)
popularity checked out 0 time(s)

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