Œuvres de 1739-1741 (II)


Author: Voltaire

Volume: 20B

Series: Œuvres complètes de Voltaire

Volume Editors: Ahmad Gunny and Christopher Todd

Publication Date: 2002

Pages: 380

ISBN: 978-0-7294-0754-0

Price: £105


The twin evils of superstition and fanaticism had been prominent in Voltaire’s work since La Henriade, but it is only with Le Fanaticisme, ou Mahomet le prophète that Voltaire translates this theme to the stage, creating an entirely novel adaptation of classical forms to modern political debate. Voltaire’s focus is the hypocrisy of religious ‘impostors’, and, despite the oriental lens, early audiences were under no illusions about the unspoken Christian targets of his polemic.

The first authorised editions of the play contain prose paratexts in different voices designed to provoke and challenge his reader. Both the play itself and the literary structure, reproduced with detailed commentary in this edition, offer important insight into Voltaire’s evolving public campaign against fanaticism.

Table of contents

Le Fanatisme, ou Mahomet le prophète, tragédie (critical edition by Christopher Todd)

De l’Alcoran et de Mahomet (critical edition by Ahmad Gunny)


Voltaire’s brief essay De l’Alcoran et de Mahomet, edited by Ahmad Gunny, is a mixture of prejudice and good sense. Voltaire has no respect for marvels, mysticism or prophecy, but displays his sense of history and context in judging the value of some of Mahomet’s teaching of which he corrects certain misconceptions.

Edward James, French Studies 58.2 (2004)

A. Gunny donne du court morceau De l’Alcoran et de Mohamed une édition efficace et éclairante, exhaustivement annotée et très clairement présentée. […] La tragédie [Le Fanatisme ou Mahomet le prophète], quant à elle, pose évidemment d’autres problèmes à son éditeur, qui se trouve face à un enchevêtrement presque inextricable d’éditions innombrables et de manuscrits fragmentaires. C. Todd débrouille cet écheveau avec netteté et assurance.

Jean-Noël Pascal, Revue d’histoire littéraire de la France 104.3 (2004)

Voltaire Foundation

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