Overview

Oh! Monsieur is Persian? That's most extraordinary! How can someone be Persian?'

Two Persian travellers, Usbek and Rica, arrive in Paris just before the death of Louis XIV and in time to witness the hedonism and financial crash of the Regency. In their letters home they report on visits to the theatre and scientific societies, and observe the manners and flirtations of polite society, the structures of power and the hypocrisy of religion. ...
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Persian Letters

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Overview

Oh! Monsieur is Persian? That's most extraordinary! How can someone be Persian?'

Two Persian travellers, Usbek and Rica, arrive in Paris just before the death of Louis XIV and in time to witness the hedonism and financial crash of the Regency. In their letters home they report on visits to the theatre and scientific societies, and observe the manners and flirtations of polite society, the structures of power and the hypocrisy of religion. Irony and bitter satire mark their comparison of East and West and their quest for understanding. Unsettling news from Persia concerning
the female world of the harem intrudes on their new identities and provides a suspenseful plot of erotic jealousy and passion.

This pioneering epistolary novel and work of travel-writing opened the world of the West to its oriental visitors and the Orient to its Western readers. This is the first English translation based on the original text, revealing this lively work as Montesquieu first intended.

ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

A novel in the form of letters written to and by two Persian travelors in 18th-century Europe.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
<:st>A translation of the 1758 edition of the French writer's witty, naughty, and negative critique of his society. In addition to one character's irreverent observations on popes and kings, and the expressions of frustration another's wives and eunuchs, however, are essays and allegories exploring the 18th-century urgency to discover universals, or at least pragmatic constants amid the diversity of human cultural and society, and to confront the proposition that all human relationships are based on self-interest. Healy provides a 19- page introduction and footnotes explaining allusions. Paper edition (unseen), $9.95. Cited in . Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780191604881
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford
  • Publication date: 4/17/2008
  • Series: Oxford World's Classics Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Charles-Louis de Secondat was born in 1689 at La Brède, near Bordeaux, into an eminent family of parlementaires. His mother died when he was ten and Charles-Louis was sent to Paris to be educated and completed a law degree in Bordeaux in 1708. He returned to Paris in order to finish his education, staying until his father died in 1713. In 1714 he became a councilor at the Bordeaux Parlement and a year later married a Huguenot lady, Jeanne de Lartigue, probably for her money. They had three children. A year after their marriage Charles-Louis inherited the barony of Montesquieu and the post of président à mortier at the Bordeaux Parlement and five years later, in 1721, he published anonymously in Holland the Persian Letters, which ran into ten editions in one year. From 1721 to 1725 he lived in Paris frequenting fashionable society and conducting several love-affairs. He sold his post of président in 1726 because of financial difficulties, was elected to the French academy in 1727 and spent the next three years traveling in Europe (he stayed about eighteen months in England and became a freemason). He returned to France working mainly in Paris but occasionally traveling to the southwest to look after his estates and wine business. During this period his persistent eye troubles got worse and he gave up freemasonry because of the Church’s disapproval. In 1748 he published his most important work, The Spirit of Laws, which made an immediate impression and caused a lot of controversy. Montesquieu died in Paris of a fever in 1755. In 1751 The Spirit of Laws was placed on the Vatican Index and likewise the Persian Letters in 1761.
Christopher Betts was born in 1936 and is at present a lecturer in the School of French Studies at the University of Warwick.
Christopher Betts was born in 1936 and is at present a lecturer in the School of French Studies at the University of Warwick.

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