Site de Benoît Melançon / Thèses canadiennes en littérature française du XVIIIe siècle

Fahmy, Jean Mohsen, «Voltaire et Paris», Montréal, Université McGill, thèse de doctorat, mars 1977, 368 p. Dir. : Jean Terrasse.

According to critics, Voltaire has always been the Parisian prototype in the XVIIIth Century, supporting social life and pleasure. Research workers have therefore put too much emphasis on topics taken from the Mondain. Voltaire has nevertheless continuously considered the differences between Parisian and country living. The turbulent life in the Capital slowly led him to a secluded life in the country which was to favor better climate for writing more valuable and more aggressive works.

The image Voltaire gave of Paris and Parisians was not too favourable: town-planning was not efficient, fashion and stupidity had overthrown good taste, Parisians were frivolous but also fanatic and cruel. The philosopher concluded soon that city living provoked masked thoughts and lack of conscience; on the other hand, he thought that country living was more decent and healthy. This makes Voltaire closer to Rousseau than one would expect; his attitude towards people and society sometime reminds one of the imprecations of the "citoyen de Genève".


Fahmy, Jean Mohsen, Voltaire et Paris, Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, 195, 1981, 265 p. ISBN: 0 7294 0257 6; ISSN : 0435-2866.

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