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Siècle de Louis XIV

Edition critique par Diego Venturino et al.

Voltaire's seminal account of the reign of the Sun King, the Siècle de Louis XIV (1751) is the starting point for any reflection on the political and cultural history of this era, and is a monument of eighteenth-century historiography, paving the way for both modern historiography and literary history.

Background of this new critical edition

The lasting success of this flagship work is due to the depth of Voltaire’s insight into the people 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 first-ever critical edition is a co-publication betweeen the Voltaire Foundation and the Centre de recherche du Château de Versailles, and is published in seven volumes of the Complete Works of Voltaire (11A, 11B, 12, 13A, 13B, 13C, 13D). 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. It 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 is supplied with an index of full names of all persons mentioned in the text.


‘The Siècle de Louis XIV is the foundational text of French literary history. This edition reveals the depth of erudition that lies behind each of Voltaire’s lines, and it highlights the central role of the Siècle in the emergence of modern historical thinking.’

Pierre Force, Professor of French and History, Columbia University

‘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