Lettres persanes

ISBN: 2740411634
ISBN 13: 9782740411636
By: Montesquieu

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18th Century Classics Currently Reading Fiction France French French Literature Literature Philosophy To Read

About this book

To Montesquieu belongs the honor of pioneering the movement out of which grew the philosophical dictionaries, encyclopedias, and the literary crusade against mental subjection. If ever satire had a distinct call to duty it was during the Regency in France. Montesquieu adopted the device of a series of familiar letters exchanged by two Persian travelers in France. They were completed in 1721. Popular taste was captivated by the wit and pleasantry of the Letters. They gently satirized the abuses rife in church and state; society was held up to ridicule for its pet sins.

Reader's Thoughts

Christopher Rush

This is a fine book, full of interesting perspectives on 18th-century political, religious, and social issues. It must have been controversial back in the day, and like most things of such a nature, it doesn't make a stir now. Perhaps the most perplexing thing is the editorial-translator work of C.J. Betts. Why does he turn all the French money into British money? It's clear throughout the letters the Persians are mostly in Paris and its environs ... why use British money? Surely even in 1973, the British audience would not be offended or slighted by French money. Also, his introductory remarks make the cardinal errors of revealing too much, going on too long, and not saying enough. The reader has little desire to continue on with the actual letters by the time he or she has waded through Betts's erudite-yet-longwinded prefatory material, but if one does persist, one will find a good contribution to world literature. It does not offend, it does not excite, and it's not really the heartbreaking pessimistic decline Betts tries to make it out to be. Admittedly, things do fall thoroughly apart in the seraglio back home, but the main reason it seems to end so destructively is because Montesquieu intentionally left those letters for the end, out of chronological order with the main political/religious/social commentary-driven letters supplying the bulk of the work. And I bet Tarantino thinks he invented that.

Malene M.

Very interesting book. I liked how the Persians commented on Europe and France, and I liked the letters from the seraglio. All in all a great book and I would definitely recommend it!

Loredana Adriana

I had to study The Persian Letters at college and I thought to myself... oh, no, this is going to be boring. But no! I had the most amazing surprise ever. I must admit, I read them in both French and Romanian (my own language) but not in English. This collection of letters had a special charm to it and I enjoyed reading every single one of them. Thus, I recommend this book to all! It's wise and quite actual. Not at all boring. Guaranteed!

Ghanem Abdullah

المفكر الفرنسي مونتسكيو، صاحب كتاب “روح القوانين”، يطرح في كتاب “رسائل فارسية” نقدًا سياسيًا واجتماعيًا وثقافيًا، عبر أسلوب جديد مثير، وهو الرسائل التي يغلب عليها روح السخرية والتهكم، المبطنة بالمعاني شديدة اللهجة لما يجري ويحدث في فرنسا خصوصًا وأوروبا عمومًا.مونتسكيو يختلق قصة أمير مسلم فارسي، اسمه أوزبك، شغوف بالمعرفة والحكمة، فيغادر بلاده نحو الغرب، باحثًا عن أرضٍ يجد فيها بغيته، ويصل باريس ويراسل أهله الذين تركهم وراءَه، ناقلاً لهم مشاهداته وخبراته في الحاضرة الأوروبية العريقة.لكن مونتسكيو، لا يُقصر كتابة الرسائل على هذا الأمير الفارسي، فهناك عدة أشخاص أخَر يساهمون في كتابة الرسائل، فمثلاً، كبير خصيي القصر، الذي يُخبر سيده الغائب عن أخبار نسائه اللواتي تركهن خلفه بعهدة كبير خصيي القصر هذا، وهناك رسائل روستان صديق أوزبك، ورسائل بعض زوجات أوزبك، وغيرهم من كتبة الرسائل، تلك الرسائل التي استخدمها مونتسكيو طَبقًا يُقدم من خلاله نقدًا مباشرًا وأحيانًا غير مباشر للمجتمع والدولة والدين والتقاليد.الكتاب غني بالاقتباسات التي تعكس خبرة وثقافة مونتسكيو، وهو ذات الأمر الذي وجدته في كتابه الآخر “تأملات في تاريخ الرومان”، وكتابات مونتسكيو ليست مجرد كتابات مؤلف أو مفكر، بل هي كما قرأت له وعنه، حصيلة تجربة عملية طويلة في القضاء والتجارة والبرلمان، وقراءات مطولة في التاريخ والفلسفة وغيرها، ونتيجة صولات وجولات في المدن والحواضر الأوروبية.http://hmsq8.wordpress.com/2014/06/28...

Catherine Siemann

A sharp satire of Enlightenment Europe, tainted of course by the orientalism of the age, but well worth the read.


نامه های ایرانی در سال های دور به فارسی ترجمه شده، به گمانم حسن ارسنجانی آن را ترجمه کرده! از اولین سال های زندگی در غربت، نامه های ایرانی در ذهن من بوده، با آن سوال بزرگ، که "چگونه می شود یک ایرانی بود"!

Marc L

Typische roman in brievenvormKracht: evolutie van de personages; variatie tussen harem-correspondentie (exotisch, sappig) en saaiere filosofische brie-ven (dienen ook als contrapunt); relativering van de absolute geldigheid van gebruiken en inzichtenpersonages- usbek: gericht op wijsheid; inzicht in relativisme en dikwijls sceptisch, maar twijfelaar; meer en meer gericht op rede en deugd; maar niet toegepast op eigen harem; eerder pessimistisch- Rica: jonge, vitale man; sterk ironiserend en satirisch over westerse samenleving; sneller aan het twijfelen en relativerenSterke kracht is de satire: tegen despotisme en absolutisme; tegen godsdienstig fanatisme- tegen sociale hypocrisieuitlopend op universeel relativisme

Andrew Boes

speculation is a grand endeavor - it both looses and gains meaning when it arises as satire. To do what Montesquieu has done before the arrival of modern media sources is amazing. While there are certain flaws and falsehoods throughout, this work looses no relevance in the modern world.

Justin Evans

The nice thing about reading early 'novels' is that they so often have nothing in common with a typical contemporary novel. That's definitely the case for PL, of which only the first dozen and the last half dozen pages are are connected in any kind of narrative. Not only that, the narrative is immensely dull, unless you're the sort of person who gets off on descriptions of Harem life. Such people are, I'm sure, less common now than they were in the 18th century. A general warning: if you're prone to crying with rage any time a European shows curiosity in Oriental (sic) culture, you'll have to be very, very careful with this book. Some of it smacks of crazy ethnocentrism. On the other hand, the book is much more critical of French society than it is of 'Persian' society. The meat of the book consists in letters written to and from various 'Persians,' seeing France and some other parts of Europe for the first time. Like all good satire, it takes the normal (well, normal for 18th century French novel readers), views it from another perspective, and finds it to be both hilarious and horrifying. If you've read other 18th century moralists, you'll know what to expect: freedom, intelligence, stoicism, nature good; tyranny, love of money, theology bad.But I oversimplify, because easily the best thing about the book is how free-floating it is. I found it virtually impossible to tell when Montesquieu wanted his authors to agree with the letter writers and when to disagree. Which had the awful, depressing effect of making me think about things. For that I knock off two stars, because thinking about things is way too hard work for me.


Montesquieu may not be known to you, but he is largely responsible for the system of checks and balances in the U.S. Constitution between the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government. The Founding Fathers of our country were deeply influenced by Montesquieu's The Spirit of the Laws, which he wrote later in life.The Persian Letters, however, was written a quarter century earlier and was one of the most popular books of its time. Montesquieu has, in effect, created an epistolary novel about two Persians who spend some ten years in Europe from 1711-1720, closely observing the strangeness of French institutions and customs from the point of view of Persians of the time.It was a rough time in France, roughly comparable to our own recession due to the Mississippi Bubble and the "system" of John Law, who had been appointed Controller General of Finances of France under King Louis XV. Law was brilliant but exceedingly unorthodox, with the result that many fortunes were lost. In Letter 146, the narrator Usbek writes:I saw contractual honour dismissed, the most sacred conventions annihilated, every law of the family overthrown. I saw debtors full of avarice, proud and insolent in their poverty, worthless instruments of the ferocity of the law and the harshness of the time, pretending to pay their debts, not doing so, but stabbing their benefactors instead. More shamefully still, I saw others buying notes for almost nothing, or rather picking up oak-leaves from the ground and putting them in the place of the subsistence of widows and orphans.I saw an insatiable lust for money suddenly springing up in every heart. I saw the instantaneous development of a hateful conspiracy to get rich, not by honourable work and unstinting behaviour, but by ruining the king, the state and other citizens.At the same time that Usbek is observing France, we are observing his seraglio back in Persia falling to pieces, as his prolonged absence from his wives results in the disorder of his married life. This is an interesting book to dip into from time to time, not only to see what was troubling France in the early 1700s, but to see a highly original mind at work with a penetrating intellect in matters relating to culture and governance.

Scott Kleinpeter

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Makes me want to read more Enlightenment novels.


Boring... Maybe reading it in original didn't help either. Most of what was written is so long outdated, that in order for it to have been interesting, the form and the literary qualities should have been of a much greater value then they are. I guess it's a matter of taste, I don't find letter-novels very appealing. And sometimes I had a hard time finding the connection between the letters - it's not like a book that goes from a beginning to an end, it's just a collection of facts and view of facts... I guess this is a book to be read by people that are passionate about that period of French history, therefore being familiar with the political, economical and social context of the time. Everything (ok, almost everything) in this book is a reference to an event or to a person or to a rumor or to some plot that was fashionable at the time, so for someone unfamiliar with all that... it's just mumble bumble..


Another recommended reading, essential to my course outline. It is quite slow at the beginning but maybe it is just I. Will elaborate further as I flip more pages.


كنت دائما ما أطرب لأولئك الذين ينقدون منطرف خفي نتيجة لظروف سياسية او اجتماعية او دينية تمنعهم من النقد الصريح أو ربما اختيارا لأسلوب أبلغ وأشد ايقاعا في النفس من المباشرة المملة والمكرورة.في سنين سبقت الربيع العربي كنت استمتع بمقالات لكاتب يدعز "ماهر عبد الجليل" من تونس في صحيفة الحياة اللندنية.. كانت تلك المقالات لا تخرج عن الاطار الاجتماعي البحت لكنها ترسل اشد رسائل النقد السياسي في ثنايا الكلمات والحديث.مونتسكيو هنا وفي قالب درامي وبالرسائل الاخوانية متقمصا شخصيات تنتمي لشعب آخر قرر بعض افراده الهجرة من ارضهم الى اوروبا وفرنسا بالتحديد للتعلم والتفكر والتدبر ٫ يطرح في هـا القالب المشوق والخفيف على النفس والعقل اثمن الكتابات النقدية٫ تارة بحكم ومضامين واطروحات سياسية واجتماعية واصلاحية قيمة للغاية وتارة بأسلوب مسرحي ساخر غير مبتذل يحطم فيها قداسة الفرنسيين لحياتهم وترفعهم على الشعوب الاخرى ليعرج بنقد مر لم يوفر فيه أحد وطال كل الطبقات الفرنسية من علماء وتجار وسياسيين وفنانين في عصر الأنوار.قارن ذلك بما نشاهد من السخرية المبتذلة جدا السياسية والاجتماعية والدينية على حد سواء دون تقديم بديل عميق وانما لمجرد الضحك والتنفيس والابتذال كما نرى في جمع برامج اليوتيوب خصوصا هذه الايامتحطيم القداسة والاستعلاء كان من اهداف هذه الرسائل الشيقة وأنه يمكن الاستفادة من تجارب الشعوب الاخرى.. لعل التاريخ يعيد نفسه الان فنحن بحاجة الى من يحطم من يظنون انفسهم "خير أمة" بلا تحقيق لشروط هذه الخيرية!كالعادة لا يمكن الاقتباس من مونتسكيو فكتبه وكلماته كلها للتلقين والحفظ والتفهم بلا اي استثناء٫ وتمر عليك في هذا الكتاب رسائل بليغة وعميقة جدا في الفكر السياسي والاجتماعي في عصر انوار مهد لثورة فرنسية غيرت وجه العالم."ان رجل الفكر يكون عادة عسيرا في المجتمعات. انه يصطفي قليلا من الناس٫ اذ يضيق ذرعا بهذا العدد الكبير الذي يعجبه ان يسميه الصحبة السيئة ومن العسير عليه الا يحس بشيء من النفور منهم كما لو كانوا اعداء"ولحسن حظي.. احظى بترجمة ثانية ممتاز لكتب مونتسكيو رغم اني لم اسمع بالمترجم كمال يونس.. والكتاب من طباعة ونشر دار سعاد الصباح

Mike Edwards

As a critique of European society, this is a fantastic work. Just be warned that Montesquieu had absorbed many of the biases of his day, so his portrayal of a Middle Eastern man is riddled with stereotypes and is extremely uncomfortable to modern sensibilities.

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