Published anonymously in Livorno in July 1764, Cesare Beccaria’s ‘On Crimes and Punishments’ is at the origin of a remarkable moment in European culture.
In the late summer of 1776 there appeared an anonymous ‘Commentaire historique sur les œuvres de l’auteur de La Henriade’. On the face of it, this biography of the 82-year-old Voltaire was written by a ‘man of letters’, not in his first youth either, with access to the great man and to the ‘chaos of his papers’.
Voltaire had many bedrooms during his long life, but the best documented is the one at the Château de Ferney, where he spent a considerable time sleeping, working, or entertaining guests.
Without a doubt, the Restoration era always exceeds students’ expectations.
This summer the Voltaire Foundation team have been building up to the publication of Voltaire’s ‘Commentaire historique’, presented for the first time since its initial publication in 1776 with its dossier of ‘lettres véritables’ and the allegorical poem ‘Sésostris’.
One can read through Voltaire’s letters to learn more about his views on democracy and religion, as well as the soul and afterlife.
In the firmament of the Siècle des Lumières, Voltaire is the sun.