Shakespeare and Voltaire

By Thomas R. Lounsbury | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
THE APPEAL TO THE NATIONS

OF the numerous periodicals which circulated on the Continent during the eighteenth century, one of the most important was the Journal Encyclopédique. It was a fortnightly. It was first established at Liège in 1756 by Pierre Rousseau, a personage altogether different, it is needless to say, from the poet, or from the far more celebrated novelist. Its founder sympathized with the political and religious views of the philosophers, as they called themselves and were called. The periodical came in consequence to be considered one of their organs. Voltaire is said to have written for it frequently; he certainly spoke of it in high terms. Driven out of Liège because of the objectionable opinions it expressed, the journal found at last an abiding-place in Bouillon. There it remained during the rest of its existence, which lasted until near the end of the century.

In the autumn of 1760 there appeared in successive numbers of this periodical two articles which excited to a high degree the wrath of Voltaire.1 The first contained a parallel between Shakespeare and Corneille, the second a similar parallel between Otway and Racine. Both of them purported to be translations from the

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1
Oct. 15 and Nov. 1, 1760; tome vii, Deuxième Partie.

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