Letters on the English

Essay by Jérôme Vérain, Voltaire


Lettres philosophiques is a series of essays written by Voltaire based on his experiences living in England between 1726 and 1729. It was published first in English in 1733 and then in French the following year, where it was seen as an attack on the French system of government and was rapidly suppressed. Most modern English-language versions are based on a translation of the French text rather than Voltaire's English one.
In some ways, the book can be compared with Democracy in America by Alexis De Tocqueville, in how it flatteringly explains a nation to itself from the perspective of an outsider, as Voltaire's depictions of aspects of English culture, society and government are often given favourable treatment in comparison to their French equivalents.

First Published


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