Shakespeare and Voltaire

By Thomas R. Lounsbury | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
LA PLACE'S TRANSLATION OF SHAKESPEARE

THE clamor of the English rolled for a long time over Voltaire's head without disturbing in the slightest his peace of mind. Of most of the criticism to which he was subjected from that quarter, he probably remained in ignorance. At any rate, whatever he heard, he did not heed. The years immediately following his departure from Berlin, in the early part of 1753, were spent by him principally in Switzerland. In his retreat on the shores of the Genevan lake he heard little said of Shakespeare, and he pretty certainly thought of him even less. During the sixth decade of the eighteenth century the name of the English dramatist hardly occurs in his correspondence. Furthermore, whatever references there are to him are of no importance. Voltaire's thoughts were in fact far removed from any controversies save those connected with his own writings or his personal fortunes. Of these he usually had enough to occupy a good share of his time. He was engaged likewise in original composition. There was much too in the political situation to keep his attention fixed. During the closing years, in particular, of this sixth decade, the one outside interest to which his

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