Persian Letters

Cloth $28
Translated by Stuart D. Warner and St├ęphane Douard, Introduced by Stuart D. Warner, A William of Moerbeke Translation 340 pages, 6" x 9", introduction, notes, bibliography, appendixes, index

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Persian Letters

Montesquieu (Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu)

“Jokes in a serious work are acceptable on the condition that they hide a profound sense beneath a trivial form. It is in this way that Montesquieu, in his novel, Persian Letters, has written one of the most philosophical books of the eighteenth century.” – Alexis de Tocqueville

This translation of Montesquieu’s unsurpassed epistolary novel, the first to appear in over thirty years, is completely new and aims at being as literal as possible, including pulling no punches with the erotic elements. This means, among other things, that the translators have attempted to render the same word throughout the work as consistently as good sense allows. This places readers in a position to see the various ways in which Montesquieu associates one character with another. Also, by allowing Montesquieu to speak for himself, readers will be able to see more clearly than in any other translation both the seriousness and playfulness of Montesquieu’s intention. Nevertheless, due attention has been paid to the beauty of the literary character of the work. This will be the standard translation for years to come.

Persian Letters journeys across the unending landscape of things human, providing readers the opportunity to think through an astonishing number of themes – mastery and slavery, jealousy, philosophy and tyranny, self-deception, commerce, nature and
convention, the best life for a human being, vanity, glory, and human sexuality. Given its fascination with the relationship between Islam and the West, and the power of religion in the world generally, the book is especially timely.

In addition to the translation of the text, the volume includes a brilliant introduction by Stuart D. Warner on the philosophical meaning ofPersian Letters; a translation of the French index from the 1758 edition, which was the first-ever index of the book, as this edition will be the first-ever index in English; editorial footnotes to help with historical and literary allusions; and a chart detailing the chronological order of the composition of the letters.

The William of Moerbeke Translation Series is devoted to publishing translations in every area of scholarly endeavor to bring the reader as close as possible to the letter and spirit of the original work. Each volume will contain a scholarly introduction and notes.

Stuart D. Warner is Associate Professor at Roosevelt University. He has published articles on Montesquieu, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, and Hegel. He has edited several books, including David Hume: The Political Writings, and he has co-translated La Rochefoucauld's Maxims with Stéphane Douard (available from St. Augustine’s Press). He has taught Persian Letters more than a dozen times.

Stéphane Douard is a graduate student in the Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago, writing his dissertation on Montesquieu. He has taught French for several years at that University and at the University of Chicago in Paris.