The Fables of Reason: A Study of Voltaire's "Contes Philosophiques"

Synopsis

This is the first comprehensive study in English of Voltaire's contes philosophiques--the philosophical tales for which he is best remembered and which include his masterpiece Candide. Pearson situates each story in its historical and intellectual context and offers new readings in light of modern critical thinking. He rejects the traditional view that Voltaire's contes were the private expression of his philosophical perplexity, and argues that it is narrative that is Voltaire's essential mode of thought. His book is a witty, lucid, and scholarly guide to the "fables of reason" through which Voltaire's skepticism undermined the contemporary religious and philosophical explanations of human experience.

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