Voltaire, La Pucelle d'Orléans [The Maid of Orleans]

Jennifer Tsien (University of Virginia)
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La Pucelle d’Orléans

is a mock-epic poem by Voltaire about Joan of Arc, with verses in decasyllables. The first authorized edition appeared in 1762 in twenty cantos, but later editions contained twenty-one.

Voltaire began composing the poem at the instigation of his friend, influential courtier, and notorious libertine, the duc de Richelieu (great-nephew of the famous cardinal). They were discussing Joan of Arc, specifically the epic poem that Jean Chapelain had written about her in the previous century, La Pucelle, ou la France délivrée (1656). Voltaire, like most readers, considered Chapelain’s attempt at writing a French Christian version of the ancient epic a literary failure. Voltaire claimed that the story of Joan of Arc was so absurd that it deserved to be told in the comic

2524 words

Citation: Tsien, Jennifer. "La Pucelle d'Orléans". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 July 2021 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=40543, accessed 23 June 2024.]

40543 La Pucelle d'Orléans 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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