Voltaire's Pocket Philosophical Dictionary is a major work of the European Enlightenment. It consists of a series of short essays, arranged alphabetically, whose unifying thread is an attack on religious and political intolerance.
'If this is the best of all possible worlds, then what must the others be like?' -/- Young Candide is tossed on a hilarious tide of misfortune, experiencing the full horror and injustice of this 'best of all possible worlds' - the Old and the New - before finally accepting that his old philosophy tutor Dr Pangloss has got it all wrong. There are no grounds for his daft theory of Optimism. Yet life goes on. We must cultivate our garden, (...) for there is certainly room for improvement. -/- Candide is the most famous of Voltaire's 'philosophical tales', in which he combined witty improbabilities with the sanest of good sense. First published in 1759, it was an instant bestseller and has come to be regarded as one of the key texts of the Enlightenment. What Candide does for chivalric romance, the other tales in this selection - Micromegas, Zadig, The Ingenu, and The White Bull - do for science fiction, the Oriental tale, the sentimental novel, and the Old Testament. This new edition also includes a verse tale based on Chaucer's The Wife of Bath's Tale, in which we discover that most elusive of secrets: What Pleases the Ladies. (shrink)
They also include essays on Locke, Descartes, and Newton. Voltaire was much influenced by English tolerance, and his observations on the subject sounded a revolutionary note among European readers that resonated for long afterward.
Voltaire is widely known as the author of a literary masterpiece, Candide, while his reputation as a thinker rests largely on his Philosophical Letters and Philosophical Dictionary. He is equally renowned as a critic of the forces of superstition and fanaticism, and a champion of freedom of thought and belief. The works presented here, in a new English translation, are among the most important and characteristic texts of the Enlightenment, and bring together all three aspects of Voltaire: the writer, the (...) doer and the philosophe. Originating in Voltaire's campaign to exonerate Jean Calas, they are works of polemical brilliance, informed by his deism and humanism and by Enlightenment values and ideals more generally. The issues which they raise, concerning questions of tolerance and human dignity, are still highly relevant to our own times. This volume presents them together with an introduction by Simon Harvey and useful notes on further reading. (shrink)
This edition of Voltaire's political writings presents a varied selection of his most interesting and controversial texts, many of which have not previously been translated into English. They range over the nature and legitimacy of political power, law and the social order, crime and punishment, liberty and humanity, war and peace, and the growing disorder in the French economy. They also touch on specific issues and events in pre-Revolutionary France to which Voltaire responded and in which he was closely involved, (...) including the Seven Years' War and relations with Frederick II, the Genevan quarrels of the 1760s, and the sensational trials of Jean Calas, Sirven and the Chevalier de La Barre. A comprehensive introduction explores the background to these texts, which together reflect the full range of Voltaire's responses to the most significant issues of his time. (shrink)
Poem on the Lisbon disaster.--We must take sides.--The questions of Zapata.--Epistle to the Romans.--The sermon of the fifty.--Homily on superstition.--Homily on the interpretation of the Old Testament.--Homily on the interpretation of the New Testament.--A treatise on toleration.