Persian Letters

Further reading

Though the manuscripts from which were set editions A and B have not survived, there is a notebook of corrections and addenda ("Cahiers de corrections" at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (n. a. fr. 14365): cf. Edgar Mass, "Les éditions des Letters persanes," Revue française d’histoire du livre nos 102–103 (1999), pp. 19–56.

The most important modern French editions:

  • Antoine Adam, Genève: Droz, 1954.
  • Jean Starobinski, Paris: Gallimard "Folio," 1973, reprinted in 2003.
  • Paul Vernière, Paris: Classiques Garnier, 1960, reprinted in 1965, 1975, 1992; revised edition by Catherine Volpilhac-Auger, Livre de Poche classique, 2001.
  • Cecil Courtney, Philip Stewart, Catherine Volpilhac-Auger, Pauline Kra, Edgar Mass, Didier Masseau, Œuvres complètes, Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, vol. I, 2004. Critical edition based on the original 1721 edition.
  • Philip Stewart, Paris, Classiques Garnier, 2013. Text of the original 1721 edition.

There have been numerous English translations, usually under the title (The) Persian Letters:

  • Mr. Ozell, London, 1722.
  • Mr. [Thomas] Flloyd, London, 4th edition 1762. Available in Eighteenth Century Collections Online to libraries which subscribe to that series.
  • J. Robert Loy, New York: Meridian Books, 1961.
  • George R Healy, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1964.
  • C. J. Betts, Harmondsworth and New York: Penguin, 1973.
  • Margaret Mauldon, Oxford University Press, 2008. The only translation based on the critical edition of 2004.

Critical studies:

  • Jean Rousset, "Une forme littéraire : le roman par letters," in Forme et signification, Paris: José Corti, 1962, pp. 65–103.
  • Roger Mercier, "Le roman dans les Letters persanes: structure et signification," Revue des sciences humaines 107 (1962), pp. 345–56.
  • Roger Laufer, "La réussite romanesque et la signification des Letters persanes," Revue d’Histoire Littéraire de la France 61 (1961), pp. 188–203; reprinted in Style rococo, style des Lumières, Paris: Seuil, 1963.
  • Patrick Brady, "The Letters persanes: rococo or neo-classical ? », Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century 53 (1967), pp. 47–77.
  • Aram Vartanian, "Eroticism and politics in the Letters persanes," Romanic Review 60 (1969), pp. 23–33.
  • Jean Ehrard, "La signification politique des Letters persanes," Archives des Letters Modernes 116 (1970), pp. 33–50; reprinted in L’Invention littéraire au siècle des Lumières : fictions, idées, société, Paris, PUF, 1997, pp. 17–32.
  • Pauline Kra, Religion in Montesquieu’s "Letters persanes", Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century 72 (1970).
  • Jean Marie Goulemot, "Questions sur la signification politique des Letters Persanes," Approches des Lumières, Paris: Klincksieck, 1974, pp. 213–225.
  • Alain Grosrichard, Structure du sérail : la fiction du despotisme asiatique dans l’Occident classique, Paris: Seuil, 1979.
  • Laurent Versini, Le Roman épistolaire, Paris: PUF, 1979, pp. 40–46.
  • Alan Singerman, "Réflexions sur une métaphore : le sérail dans les Letters persanes," Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century 185 (1980), pp. 181–198.
  • Jean Pierre Schneider, "Les jeux du sens dans les Letters persanes: temps du roman et temps de l’histoire," Revue Montesquieu 4 (2000), pp. 127–159.
  • Josué Harari, "The Eunuch’s Tale : Montesquieu’s imaginary of despotism," in Scenarios of the Imaginary, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1987, pp. 67–101.
  • Jean Marie Goulemot, "Vision du devenir historique et formes de la révolution dans les Letters persanes," Dix-Huitième Siècle 21 (1989), pp. 13–22.
  • Sylvie Romanowski, "La quête du savoir dans les Letters persanes," Eighteenth-Century Fiction 3 (1991), pp. 93–111.
  • Céline Spector, Montesquieu, « Letters persanes », de l’anthropologie à la politique, Paris: PUF, 1997.
  • Louis Desgraves, Chronologie critique de la vie et des œuvres de Montesquieu, Paris: Champion, 1998, pp. 36–94.
  • Philip Stewart, "Toujours Usbek," Eighteenth-Century Fiction 11 (1999), pp. 141–150.
  • Mary McAlpin, "Between Men for All Eternity: feminocentrism in Montesquieu’s Letters persanes," Eighteenth-Century Life 24 (2000), pp. 45–61.
  • Lucas A. Swaine, "The Secret Chain: Justice and Self-Interest in Montesquieu's Persian Letters," History of Political Thought 22 (2001), pp. 84–105.
  • Jean Goldzink, Montesquieu et les passions, Paris: PUF, 2001.
  • Christophe Martin (ed.), Les "Lettres persanes" de Montesquieu, Paris: PUPS, 2013.
  • Philip Stewart (ed.), Les "Lettres persanes" en leur temps, Paris, Classiques Garnier, 2013.

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