Vol.I-II: ch.1-39 (2016)
Vol.III: Introduction et Pièces annexes (2017)
Please help the Voltaire Foundation to prepare, edit and publish this new edition of Le Siècle de Louis XIV.
General enquiries may be sent to our Administrator.
Background of this new critical edition
The lasting success of this flagship work is due to the depth of Voltaire’s insight into the persons and events that he is describing and to his historical method, which was remarkable for its day. The emphasis on first-hand accounts from those who witnessed events and on the perspective of the age as a whole rather than a parade of facts bears the stamp of Voltaire.
This edition is the first-ever full critical edition, and will be published in volumes 11-13 of the Complete Works of Voltaire. It takes as its base text the last version of the work that Voltaire authorised (1775), and gives variant readings from all preceding versions of the text. The third volume will include the Catalogue des écrivains français qui ont paru dans le siècle de Louis XIV, an important and fascinating work in its own right. The edition will be supplied with an index with full names and dates of all persons mentioned in the text.
Reviews of sample annotation
‘Le Siècle de Louis XIV is a milestone on the road to modern history-writing. Voltaire, the chief publicist of the Enlightenment, wrote his history en philosophe, concerning himself with the human condition and with man’s progress (or the lack of it) towards personal freedom; a preoccupation which later generations of historians have largely inherited. This edition […] provides an eighteenth-century portrait of le grand siècle which was startlingly new and an insight into the new history which is surprisingly familiar. Such a scholarly re-publication of one of the seminal works of the Siècle des Lumières is greatly to be welcomed.’
J. H. Shennan, Professor Emeritus at the University of Lancaster
‘Ce magnifique travail savant devrait permettre au lecteur de prendre la mesure de la puissance critique de tout l’ouvrage qui, jusque dans ses pages les plus narratives, affronte la question de la preuve et du doute dans l’écriture de l’histoire.’
Christian Jouhaud, Directeur d’études à L’Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales