Siècle de Louis XIV (IA)


Author: Voltaire

Volume: 11A

Series: Œuvres complètes de Voltaire

Volume Editors: Sous la direction de Diego Venturino

Series Collaborators: Nicholas Cronk, Jean-Alexandre Perras, Diego Venturino

Publication Date: 2019

Pages: 390

ISBN: 978-0-7294-1146-2

Price: £105


Le Siècle de Louis XIV est l’une des étapes marquantes de la carrière de l’historien-philosophe Voltaire, et la première grande synthèse consacrée au règne de Louis XIV. L’ouvrage marque le début de l’historiographie moderne ainsi que de l’histoire littéraire. Ce volume contient un essai d’introduction au Siècle de Louis XIV rédigé par Diego Venturino, éditeur général de la nouvelle édition. L’auteur y examine minutieusement le projet historique de Voltaire, en explorant la genèse et la composition de l’œuvre, et en la mettant en perspective dans l’histoire de l’historiographie classique. Nicholas Cronk et Jean-Alexandre Perras proposent une section sur le ‘Catalogue des écrivains’, la liste biographique de Voltaire des auteurs éminents du Grand Siècle. Cette nouvelle édition critique du Siècle de Louis XIV est publiée en sept tomes (t.11A-13D des Œuvres complètes de Voltaire) avec le soutien du Centre de recherche du château de Versailles.

Table of contents

Siècle de Louis XIV: Introduction (Diego Venturino)


1. Devenir historien après la crise de l’histoire (1703-1731)

2. La longue marche du Siècle (1728-1753)

3. A l’épreuve des sources

4. Ce que le Siècle de Louis XIV nous raconte


Présentation du ‘Catalogue des écrivains’ (Nicholas Cronk et Jean-Alexandre Perras)


Volume 11A contains two introductions. The first, by Diego Venturino is, in effect, a fully developed and thoroughly convincing monograph detailing the creation of the Siècle de Louis XIV and Voltaire’s emergence as the preeminent writer of history in the eighteenth century. Rather than relying on Voltaire’s own programmatic statements, as some commentators have done, Venturino probingly explores the philosophe’s claim to have written a modern, philosophical history that does not focus on the monarch but instead creates a great tableau of the entire age. […] [H]e shows how Voltaire managed to compose a foundational text that has traversed the centuries, generating an image of French grandeur that resonates today, even if the work does not always match the historian’s initial aspirations. […]

Venturino’s writing is dense and filled with insights, not only about the Siècle de Louis XIV specifically, but also about the nature of historical writing and the ways in which it evolved in the eighteenth century. Given the significance of the Siècle, both for Voltaire’s development as an historian and as an influence on subsequent generations of writers, this introduction should become required reading.

In the second, much shorter introduction, Cronk and Perras present the “Catalogue des écrivains” – part of the extensive lists of sovereigns, ministers, commanders, etc., that precede the main text of the Siècle. […] This element of the Siècle has attracted only scant attention in the past, but this clear and compelling analysis makes a strong case for taking these lists more seriously as an essential part of Voltaire’s masterwork.

John R. Iverson, XVIII New Perspectives on the Eighteenth Century

Voltaire Foundation

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