Reinventing Voltaire

BookReinventing Voltaire

Reinventing Voltaire

The Politics of Commemoration in Nineteenth-century France

Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2000:09


September 1st, 2000

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How was Voltaire's legacy seen in France between 1830 and 1900? To what extent did the nineteenth century reinvent Voltaire? Viewed during these years through the distorting lens of the French Revolution, Voltaire was vilified and venerated in roughly equal measure: as an icon of republican anticlericalism on the one hand, and a deeply Christian reformer on the other. This wide-ranging study uses the rich sources of the Parisian periodical and daily press to examine the evolution of Voltaire's legacy as it was contested through caricature and statuary as much as through editions and criticism of his works.

'The first really comprehensive study of the different phases in which Voltaire was reinvented and then celebrated after his death. There’s also a chapter on popular editions of his work and the extent to which Voltaire is read by a broader reading public—a more working class reading public.'
Nicholas Cronk, Five Books

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Title Page4
Copyright Page5
List of Illustrations10
1. Politicising Voltaire18
Voltaire and the French Revolution20
A Question of Patriotism27
The Republican Legacy30
2. Le Siècle and the Subscription Campaign of 1867: The First Open-Air Statue of Voltaire52
The Idea52
Selling the Campaign57
Patterns of Subscription75
Installing the Statue93
Voltaire the Communard?103
3. Exhibiting Voltaire in the Public Sphere: The Iconographic Tradition111
The Panthéon111
The New Louvre126
The Hôtel de Ville130
The Institut de France131
The Mairie of the Ninth Arrondissement138
4. Working-Class Editions and Their Readership142
Locating the Working-Class Reader143
Reading Voltaire: Cautious Incentives147
Patterns of Sanction and Censure160
Reinventing the Dictionnaire Philosophique171
5. Voltaire in the Classroom177
A Tolerable Genius: Voltaire's Place in French Literature Schoolbooks178
The Moral Imperative182
The Voice of Conservatism196
The Verdict of History: Voltaire's Place in French History Schoolbooks199
Select List of Works Cited214