Montesquieu. Persian Letters (2008)
Montesquieu. Persian Letters. Translated by Margaret Mauldon; With an Introduction and Notes by Andrew Kahn; Series: Oxford World’s Classics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008, [XXX] 270 p. ISBN 978-0-19-280635-2
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Persian Letters is a classic of European literature by Baron de Montesquieu, the brilliant thinker who had a huge influence on the Enlightenment. Through the astute observations of his two fictional Persian travelers in Europe–Usbek and Rica–Montesquieu asks fundamental questions about human nature, the manners and flirtations of polite society, the structures of power, and the hypocrisy of religion-all in a witty, inventive satire that combines travel literature and the epistolary genre. Indeed, this pioneering epistolary novel appeared almost twenty years before Richardson’s Pamela. This is the first English translation based on the new, definitive edition of the original French text, revealing this lively work as Montesquieu first intended. The book features an engaging and comprehensive introductory essay, covering a wide range of topics, including the novel’s fictional techniques and innovations; travel literature as a genre; historical context and Enlightenment ideas; Orientalism; and other issues. The editor has included full explanatory notes, a useful list of characters, and an invaluable appendix featuring excerpts from Montesquieu’s most important sources.
— Andrew Kahn is University Lecturer in Russian at Oxford University.
— Margaret Mauldon is the distinguished translator of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Diderot’s Rameau’s Nephew, and other works.