Voltaire’s correspondence has been called his masterpiece, but he did not systematically keep copies of the letters he sent and seldom kept those he received. In a sense, it was his first posthumous editors who ‘created’ his correspondence.
Correspondence and related documents
About the Book
Besterman’s groundbreaking ‘definitive’ edition of Voltaire’s correspondence is the first and only edition to be based accurately on manuscripts, and contains over 21,000 letters from and to Voltaire, or between third parties. All known letters written by and to Voltaire are printed in full, and each letter is extensively annotated. Also reproduced are more than 500 documents that shed light on various aspects of Voltaire’s long career.
Volumes 131-35 consist of alphabetical and chronological lists, catalogues and indexes, including a list of ‘unidentifiable, spurious, doubtful and lost letters’; a key to pseudonyms and nicknames; an index of quotations; a list of incipits; and a list of letters arranged alphabetically by the names of correspondents.
‘Voltaire’s correspondence superbly represents a critical period of history in a picture composed day by day during more than sixty years; it gives us a close-up of the society of an entire epoch, in all its grandeur and baseness, and makes us the familiars of its thinkers and artists, kings and statesmen, tax gatherers and tripe sellers; it variously reflects the mind, the feelings, the doings of a very great man; every page illustrates the insight, the poetry of a genius, expressed in an incomparable style; and these things make Voltaire’s correspondence the great classic of letter-writing, and indeed a masterpiece of literature’ (Th. Besterman, Introduction to vol.85).
Table of Contents
Vol. 85-129: D1-21221, 1704-1778
Vol. 130: General preface; Introduction; Preface to the supplement; Supplement: additions and corrections
Vol. 131: List of letters: chronological
Vol. 132: List of letters: alphabetical
Vol. 133: List of letters: incipits
Vol. 134: List of unidentifiable, spurious, doubtful and lost letters; Calender of manuscripts of the correspondence; Calender of manuscripts cited in the notes
Vol. 135: Bibliography of the printed letters; List of printed works cited in the notes; Key to pseudonyms and nicknames; Index of annotated words and phrases; Index of quotations; List of appendixes; Classified index of illustrations in Voltaire's correspondence, 1953-1964
L’analyse […] de la correspondance de Voltaire ne peut que mettre à nouveau en lumière les qualités d’une édition fondamentale à tous égards.