The voice of the Age of Reason remarks on English religion and politics during the early 18th century: Quakers, Church of England, Presbyterians, Anti-Trinitarians, Parliament, government, commerce, plus essays on Locke, Descartes, and Newton. Voltaire's observations on English tolerance sounded a revolutionary note among European readers that resonated long after the book's first publication.
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(216mm x 137mm x 9mm)
Dover Publications Inc.
Publisher: Dover Publications Inc.
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UK Kirkus Review »
Voltaire is one of the more accessible of the French Enlightenment thinkers, and if you are acquainted with Candide, a savagely satirical tale of the eponymous Candide's travels as a runaway, you will have some idea what to expect from his letters. While they are not particularly satirical, the Letters are the passionate yet thoughtful writings of a man desperate for his country to become more just and equal. They share with Candide a troubled social conscience and caustic sense of humour. Voltaire was banished from Paris for offending an aristocrat, and resided in England for over two years. His 'letters' are in fact a series of reflections, written during this time of exile, on the English system of government, religion, scientific advances and other thinkers such as Locke. Voltaire uses the device of pretending he is describing these matters to a correspondent in France - to great effect, as his thoughts sound like the intimate urgings of a friend, rather than the dry observations of a philosopher. He does not write with an untempered enthusiasm for all things English, but the reader is made acutely aware of the faults of both countries, and of Voltaire's belief that France's faults are by far the greater. In itself there is much to recommend the Letters: they are witty, concise, and one really gets the sense of a sharp intelligence on Voltaire's part. However, there are much better editions of the Letters than this one. It is a facsimile of an edition published in 1961, and so the typeface is very old-fashioned. There is also very little by way of an introduction and explanation of the context of the Letters, or of the rest of Voltaire's work or life. This is disappointing, and anyone wanting to read any Voltaire would be better advised to buy a different edition. (Kirkus UK)
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