The Age of Voltaire: A History of Civilization in Western Europe from 1715 to 1756, with Special Emphasis on the Conflict between Religion and Philosophy (The Story of Civilization IX)

By Will Durant

The Age of Voltaire, the 9th quantity of the tale of Civilization, is an in-depth exam of France and England within the first 1/2 the eighteenth century. during this masterful paintings, listeners will come across the English rules that encouraged the Enlightenment in France; the salons of Paris, the place the wits and thinkers of all Europe accrued to replace rules; the philosophes-- intellectuals and artists who consulted with kings and queens; Voltaire himself, the incarnation of the Enlightenment; Mme. Pompadour, who seduced Louis XV and during him encouraged French coverage; the Augustan Age in English literature; and the starting to be parasitism of the aristocracy and emerging strength of the economic category.

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The predominance of mess ups over successes within the “word company” shared with the divorce of literature from aristocratic patronage in debasing the social prestige of authors. while whilst in France poets, philosophers, and historians have been being welcomed into the fanciest houses and bosoms, in England—with or 3 exceptions—they have been excluded from “polite society” as unwashed bohemians. might be that was once why Congreve begged Voltaire to not type him as a author. Alexander Pope challenged the prejudices of his time by means of claiming to be either a poet and a gentleman. via the latter be aware he intended a guy of “gentle birth,” no longer a guy of light methods. to the contrary! II. ALEXANDER POPE: 1688–1744 Johnson, who despised biographies that start with a pedigree and finish with a funeral, started his impressive biography of Pope by means of telling us that “Alexander Pope used to be born in London might 22, 1688, of folks whose rank or prestige was once by no means ascertained. ”3 the daddy used to be a linen service provider who made a modest fortune after which retired to Binfield, close to Windsor wooded area. either mom and dad have been Roman Catholics, and the 12 months of Pope’s delivery used to be additionally the yr while the dethronement of James II dashed the hopes of Catholics for the abatement of the anti-Catholic legislation. the mum was once in particular light to the boy, who used to be her basically baby. He inherited from her an inclination to complications, and from his father such curvature of the backbone that he by no means grew past 4 and a part toes in top. His early schooling used to be entrusted to Catholic clergymen, who made him trained in Latin, and not more so in Greek; different tutors taught him French and Italian. As his faith closed the colleges and the professions to him, he endured his experiences at domestic; and as his crooked determine and frail well-being handicapped him for energetic firm, his mom and dad indulged his fondness for writing poetry. He tells us that As but a toddler, nor but a idiot to reputation, I lisp’d in numbers, for the numbers got here. four At twelve he had a glimpse of Dryden pontificating in Will’s Coffeehouse; the sight stirred in him a wild wish for literary glory. At 16 he composed a few Pastorals which circulated in manuscript and received intoxicating compliment; they have been accredited for ebook in 1709. Then, in 1711, in the entire ripe knowledge of his twenty-three years, he astonished the wits of London with an Essay on feedback in which—even whereas caution authors, a bit studying is a deadly factor; Drink deep, or flavor now not the Pierian spring5 of the Muses—he laid down with magisterial finality the principles of literary artwork. right here Horace’s Ars poetica and Boileau’s artwork poétique have been digested into 744 strains of fine experience marvelously, usually monosyllabically, phrased— What oft was once inspiration, yet ne’er so good expressed. 6 The adolescence had an inherent ability for epigram, for compressing reams of knowledge in a line, and rounding each one suggestion with a rhyme. He took his versification from Dryden, yet his thought from Boileau. Having rest to dossier his verse, he quite simply approved the vintage tips to excellent the shape, to make the goblet extra necessary than its wine.

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