Voltaire and Sade, with a dash of Casanova

Voltaire Foundation

I have spent a lot of time with Voltaire and Sade recently, editing La Prude for the Complete Works and translating The 120 Days of Sodom for Penguin Classics (this was a collaboration with Will McMorran, and our blog is here). The two works could not be more different.

Manuscript of Les Cent vingt journées de Sodome Manuscript of Les Cent vingt journées de Sodome

Voltaire began work on his comedy in a writing frenzy in winter 1739-40 (‘Je n’ai jamais été si inspiré de mes dieux, ou si possédé de mes démons’, January 1740) but then tinkered with it for seven and a half years; Sade, on the contrary, carefully planned his novel for two and a half years, before writing it up in thirty-seven days in late 1785. Voltaire struggled to bring his comedy, which is based on William Wycherley’s often obscene The Plain Dealer (1676), into line with French taste and decorum, whereas…

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‘je jeterai mon bonet par-dessus les moulins’ – delving into the Correspondance de Mme de Graffigny

The Correspondance de Mme de Graffigny, now available as a 15-volume set, is a rich account of eighteenth-century life detailing court events and intrigues, financial and social manoeuvres, theatre…

Sorgente: ‘je jeterai mon bonet par-dessus les moulins’ – delving into the Correspondance de Mme de Graffigny

Comunicazione importante – OFA

A causa di un errore informatico l’attribuzione degli OFA in seguito al Test d’ingresso ha in un primo momento dato un risultato non corrispondente a verità, per cui molti studenti si sono visti prima assegnare e poi togliere gli OFA.

Pregherei tutte le matricole di verificare la loro situazione e di contattarmi per poi regolarizzare la loro situazione con il recupero (eventuale) dei Debiti Formativi.

My name is nobody

Voltaire Foundation

Debate on authorship, pseudonymity and anonymity has been rife in the past few days in the wake of the revelation of Italian novelist Elena Ferrante’s true identity. What is surprising, one could argue, is that the best-selling author’s unmasking took so long. How could a hugely popular writer hope to keep her identity secret in a celebrity-obsessed age when anonymous publishing is very much the exception?

But it was not always so. The expectations of the reading public were very different in eighteenth-century Europe, a time when most books were published without any mention of their author’s name at all. The cover of anonymity allowed for levels of audacity, risk-taking and mischief that would have been unthinkable otherwise, but it also made possible a fair amount of what we would nowadays call “trolling”.

Voltaire and Rousseau reconciled at last, according to this print (Gallica) An unlikely pairing (Image Gallica, 1794-1799, artist unknown)

As observed in an earlier post

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