La Défense de mon oncle; A Warburton

Author: Voltaire

Volume: 64

Series: Œuvres complètes de Voltaire

Volume Editors: José-Michel Moureaux

Publication Date: 1984

Pages: 522

ISBN: 978-0-7294-0312-2

Price: £105


Voltaire’s clever and moving defence of his Philosophie de l’histoire against an attack by Pierre Henri Larcher lets his wit and insight shine through on a dizzying array of topics, and ultimately the defence of his fundamental beliefs about historical writing and Enlightenment principles. Penned in a week at the age of 73, it is an impassioned apologia of Voltaire’s rational system of approaching history and civilization.

A Warburton, also contained in this volume, followed hot on the heels of the Défense de mon oncle. It is a short but highly polemical pamphlet, directed against the prominent bishop and theological commentator, William Warburton.

Table of contents

La Défense de mon oncle (édition critique par José-Michel Moureaux)

A Warburton (édition critique par José-Michel Moureaux)


On reste confondu devant tant d’érudition mise au service de l’établissement du texte et de son commentaire. Moins de cent pages de Voltaire et près de 400 pour l’analyse et la présentation! […] Un chef-d’œuvre d’édition critique pour le meilleur des grands “rogatons” voltairiens.

François Moureau, Dix-Huitième Siècle 19 (1987)

Though he accuses Larcher of everything from pedantry to pederasty (with heresy thrown in for good measure), the comic exaggeration of his tone ‘earths’ the invective and makes this one of the most enjoyable of the author’s diatribes. It is also, like La Philosophie de l’histoire, one of the most wide-ranging, touching on a host of scientific and historical problems. […] Elsewhere he maintains his position though, as Moureaux shows, he later silently adopts many of Larcher’s views. Larcher himself, moreover, was more of a philosophe than Voltaire realized. Moureaux, in his introduction and notes, gives us a magisterial account of these controversies and developments.

J. H. Brumfitt, French Studies 41.1 (1987)

Voltaire Foundation