Charles-Louis de Secondat Montesquieu: Lettres persanes [Persian Letters]

(2000 words)
  • Haskins Gonthier Ursula (University of Birmingham)

The Lettres persanes [Persian Letters], the first published work by the French Enlightenment philosopher and political theorist Montesquieu, appeared in Amsterdam in 1721. That the work was published anonymously outside France and without the official authorisation of the French censors is a mark of its subversive and controversial content, much of which is, however, masked by the author’s masterful use of wit, irony and allusion. The Lettres persanes is an epistolary novel which in its final edition includes 161 letters (the first edition contained 150). These make up the correspondence of two Persian travellers, Usbek and Rica, who leave their home in Ispahan in 1711 and journey to France, where they stay until 1…

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Ursula, Haskins Gonthier. "Lettres persanes". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 March 2011
[, accessed 30 September 2016.]