Lecture | Voltaire and the Art of the Miscellany


McLennan Library Building Colgate Seminar Room, Rare Books and Special Collections (4th floor), 3459 rue McTavish, Montreal, QC, H3A 0C9, CA


PLEASE EMAIL roaar.library [at] mcgill.ca TO BE ADDED TO THE WAITING LIST.


Voltaire was a hugely prolific writer of short prose works. René Pomeau, in a rare bon mot, writes that Voltaire is ‘interminably brief’. Scholars don’t quite know what to do with this vast part of Voltaire’s œuvre  and they remain little studied. In the late eighteenth century to the late nineteenth century editors bundled these works together in volumes called ‘Mélanges’.

In fact, Voltaire collected and arranged his shorter texts in volumes of his own construction, and it is these miscellanies that pose many questions: 

- Are they thematically unified? 

- How and why do they mix old and new works? 

- How are the individual works signed, if they are? 

The miscellanies are pivotal works for understanding Voltairean polemic, and they constitute an intrinsic part of his innovative authorial posture.

Talk given by Professor Nicholas Cronk, M.A., D.Phil., Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, Officier dans l’ordre des Palmes académiques, Oxford University

Light reception to follow.


Presented by Rare and Special Collections, Osler, Art, and Archives (ROAAr).

This event is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Nicholas Cronk is the Director of the Voltaire Foundation, Professor of French Literature, and Lecturer in the History of the Book; Fellow of St Edmund Hall at Oxford University. Cronk is Chercheur associé à l’ITEM (CNRS/ENS), Pôle «Ecritures des Lumières», Président de la Société des études voltairiennes. As General Editor of the Complete Works of Voltaire, Nicholas Cronk's main research interests are related to Voltaire, in particular Voltaire's historical writings, his correspondence, his poetry, the Lettres philosophiques, and the Questions sur l’Encyclopédie. Cronk also studies the French Enlightenment more generally, the history of the book (in particular the illustrated book) and questions of critical editing.

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