The Fables of Reason: A Study of Voltaires Contes Philosophiques

Hardcover | October 1, 1995

byRoger Pearson

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Almost three hundred years after his birth in 1694, this is the first comprehensive study of Voltaire's contes philosophiques - the philosophical tales for which he is now best remembered and which include the masterpiece Candide. The Fables of Reason situates each of the twenty-six stories in its historical and intellectual context and offers new readings and approaches in the light of modern critical thinking. It rejects the traditional view that Voltaire's contes were the private expression of his philosophicalperplexity, written merely in the margins of his historiography and his campaigns against the Establishment. Arguing that narrative is Voltaire's essential mode of thought, the book stresses the role of the reader and shows how the contes are designed less to communicate a set of truths than toencourage independence of mind. Roger Pearson has written a witty, lucid and scholarly guide to the `fables of reason' with which Voltaire undermined - and continues to undermine - the religious, philosophical, and economic `fables', by which other thinkers have tried to explain and direct human experience.

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Almost three hundred years after his birth in 1694, this is the first comprehensive study of Voltaire's contes philosophiques - the philosophical tales for which he is now best remembered and which include the masterpiece Candide. The Fables of Reason situates each of the twenty-six stories in its historical and intellectual context an...

Roger Pearson is at The Queen's College, Oxford.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:280 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 1.22 inPublished:October 1, 1995Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198158807

ISBN - 13:9780198158806

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`Roger Pearson's excellent general study of Voltaire's fiction fills another surprising gap. A great deal has been written about individual tales, groups of tales, and particular aspects (technique, style, influences, sources, ideas) of the contes as a whole, but the broad perspective has beenlacking. Pearson's overview, managed with an enviable lightness of touch and sound critical sense, goes beyond the worthy mise au point and makes an absorbing case for seeing Voltaire not as a novelist but as a maker of fables.'David Coward, University of Leeds, MLR, 92.2, 1997