Pdf/E–book [Lettres persanes] À Montesquieu


Montesuieu may not be known to you but he is largely responsible for the system of checks and balances in the US Constitution between the Executive Legislative and Judicial branches of overnment The Founding Fathers of our country were deeply influenced by Montesuieu s The Spirit of t One of my first thrills of enthusiasm for classical books vintageWhat a legendary satire my friends The link between you and Montesuieu feels fresh as a lass of beer as if the French writer was having casual talk with you over a drink about the relevance of privatizing SNCF French National Railway Company Un de mes tous premiers coups de c ur pour des auteurs du cru classiueCe livre est tout simplement un monstre de satire On croirait ue Montesuieu est l juste c t bavasser plaisamment sur les travers du ouvernement d douard Philippe sur l utilit de privatiser la SNCF et de faire une comparaison rapide avec les pays voisins ou plus loin des cons uences de la privatisation du transport public de l nergie de l enseignement des services de sant avec les pays trangers comme a en passant I enjoyed this so much than I could have anticipated But I don t really feel like reviewing it in a thoughtful way My apologies I have always loved the correspondence techniue for storytelling It allows for digressions and timeline manipulations you can t et away with in a regular narrative I liked the parables A person probably ets from the book on a subseuent reading or with time to devote to really contemplating the parables Fantastic Looking forward to reading Montesuieu another time How to sell a book 300 years old to a modern reader What is the appeal today of the epistolary musings of a couple of Oriental travellers having a first contact with Western civilization at the end of King Louis the 14th Here are some points that I hope will tickle your interest1 The Persian Letters were not written as history but as a contemporary satire of French civilization using ridicule and common sense to expose the unsavoury mentalities and practices of fellow countrymen Think of Montesuieu as the 1721 version of The Colbert Report or The Daily ShowI saw a survey here on Goodreads asking what I would do if I had a time machine One answer would be to Birth and Fortune: The Impact of Numbers on Personal Welfare go back to early 18 century pick up Charles Louis de Secondat baron de La Brede et de Montesuieu and bring him back to 2012 to do a tour of the talk shows I m sure he would be uite at ease and dazzling in his commentaries2 According to political scientist Donald Lutz Montesuieu was the most freuently uoted authority onovernment and politics in colonial pre revolutionary British America cited by the American founders than any source except for the Bible So if you are not ready to tackle his magnum opus De l esprit des lois you might check this lighter material first one that incorporates the basic tenets of his philosophy in a entertaining format Here s a uote that might feel familiar All the people of Europe are not eually subject to their princes for instance the impatient humour of the English seldom Island Girls (and Boys) give their king time to make his power heavy Passive obedience and non resistance are no virtues in their esteem They say upon this head very extraordinary things According to them there is but one tie that can bind men which is that ofratitude a husband a wife a father and son are not bound to each other but either by the love they bear to one another or by mutual services and these different motives of acknowledgment are the origin of every kingdom and of all societies But if a of acknowledgment are the origin of every kingdom and of all societies But if a very far from making his subjects live very far from making his subjects live endeavours to oppress and ruin them the foundation of obedience ceases nothing ties them nothing attaches them to him and they return to their natural liberty Letter CIV 3 At the time of its publication The Persian Letters had a success comparable to Twilight and Harry Potter spawning countless imitations While it is not technically the first novel to be written entirely in epistolary form it was the one that made the biggest splash Some of the appeal may have been in the piuant details about life in a harem uite tame by modern standards or in trying to identify the local celebrities lampooned in the text But I believe the major selling point was the outsider view the contact of two civilizations that have evolved on parallel tracks Persian and French Given that today we see a lot of willful misunderstandings and distortions about the Muslim versus the Christian heritage a lecture of the attitudes held by both the Frenchmen and the Orientals might show we were tolerant three centuries ago4 Montesuieu is one of the founding members of the Enlightenment movement a firm believer in progress education science diversity justice and the basic decency of humans in their natural state The parable of the Troglodites in one of the first letters illustrate this point of the difference between a society built solely on reed and one built on respect fairness moral rectitude hard work5 You can start a lively debate with direct appliance to the modern day from any of his letters on such diverse subjects as world demographic evolution Letter CXXX and onward the distribution of wealth Letter XCVIII economic theory Letter CVI science as the new religion Letter XCVII creationism Letter CXIII religious tolerance Letter LX ood Stretching Lessons: The Daring that Starts from Within governance Letter LXXX celibacy Letter CXVII the right to take your own life didn t note the number of this letter poligamy Letter CXIV divorce Letter CXVI modesty Letter CXLIV and so on 6 While Montesuieu doesn t take a clear stance on women liberation and the injustice of locking them inilded cages reading between the lines of the letters dealing directly with Uzbek and his five wifes and considering the final outcome of trying to impose authority from a distance using brute force he could still be considered one of the first authors to speak up against Call the Next Witness genre discriminationBefore Iet to the numerous uotes I selected from the text I should say a few words about why I didn t Building for the Arts: The Strategic Design of Cultural Facilities give the book the maximum rating and why it may not work for anyone The language especially in the first 20 or 30 letters is archaic chockfull of thee thy art mayest sayest etc Iot used to it eventually and stopped noticing the dusty style about a third of the way in And for readers who expect a plot characterization action this is not it Excluding the harem pieces most of the book is in essays and satirical piecesFirst uote is about curiosity and a thirst for knowledge They who love to inform themselves are never idle Though I have no busines. This richly evocative novel in letters tells the story of two Persian noblemen who have left their country the modern Iran to journey to Europe in search of wisdom As they travel they write home to wives and eunuchs in the harem and to friends in France and elsewhere Their Lettres persanesS of conseuence to take care of I am nevertheless continually employed I spend my life in examining things I write down in the evening whatever I have remarked what I have seen and what I have heard in the day every thing engages my attention and every thing excites my wonder I am like an infant whose organs as yet tender are strongly affected by the slightest objects Letter XLVIII Next one about the anti intellectual attitude With regard to those who take pride in their ignorance they would willingly have all mankind buried in that oblivion to which they are themselves consigned When a man is destitute of any particular talent he indemnifies himself by expressing his contempt for it Letter CXLV A plea for religious pluralism I know not Mirza but it may be Bulletproof Feathers: How Science Uses Nature's Secrets to Design Cutting-Edge Technology good for a state that there should be several religions in it It is observable that the members of the tolerated religions commonly make themselves useful to their country than those of the established religion because being excluded from all honours they can only render themselves considerable by their opulence they are led to acuire it by their industry and to embrace the most toilsome employments in the society Besides as all religions contain precepts useful to society it isood that they should be observed with zeal Letter LXXXV Once for religious tolerance I acknowledge that history is full of religious wars but we must take care to observe it was not the multiplicity of religions that produced these wars it was the intolerating spirit which animated that which thought she had the power of Casuistry and Modern Ethics: A Poetics of Practical Reasoning governing It was the spirit of proselytism which the Jews contracted from the Egyptians and which from them hath passed like an epidemic and popular disease to Mahometans and Christians It is in short the spirit of enthusiasm the progress of which can be considered only as a total eclipse of human reason He who would have me change my religion no doubt desires me to do so because he would not change his own if he was forced to it he yet thinks it strange that I will not do a thing which he himself would not do perhaps for the empire of the world Letter LXXXV One uote that prefigurates the principles that lead to the United Nations It seems Rhedi there are two kinds of justice entirely different one which regulates the affairs of private persons which reigns in the civil law another which regulates the differences that arise between people and people which tyrannizes in the law of nations as if the law of nations was not a civil law not indeed of a particular country but of the world The magistrates ought to administer justice between citizen and citizen every nation ought to do the same between themselves and another nation In this second distribution of justice no other maxims ought to be employed but those in the first Letter XCV How to put down a bigot When two persons who were present denied him any of his principles he presently cried out it is certain we have so determined it and we are infallible judges And how came you said I to him then to be infallible judges Do not you perceive replied he that the holy spirit hath enlightened us That is happy returned I for from the manner of your talking to day I perceive you havereat need to be enlightened Letter CI On the legality of war There are but two kinds of just wars one which is waged to repulse the attack of an enemy the other To Succour An Ally Who Is Attacked succour an ally Who Is Attacked Would is attacked would be justice to enter into a war upon the private uarrel of a prince unless the case was so heinous as to merit the death of the prince or the people who committed it Thus a prince should not engage in a war because he hath been refused an honour which was his right or for any unsuitable demeanor towards his ambassadors and such similar cases no than a private person ought to kill him who refuses him precedency The reason is this as a declaration of war ought to be an act of justice wherein the punishment should always be in proportion to the fault it should be inuired whether the party against whom war is declared merits death For to make war against any person is to be willing to punish him with death In the law of nations the severest act of justice is war since the effect of it is the destruction of society Letter XCV This is uncannily accurate about the progress of weapons of mass destruction Thou talkest much to me in one of thy letters of the arts and sciences cultivated in the west Thou wilt be ready to regard me as a barbarian but I know not if the benefit derived from them hath made amends to mankind for the bad use to which they are daily applied I have heard say that the single invention of bombs hath destroyed the liberty of all t This book from 1721 written during and set at the beginning of that licentious interregnum between the death of Lou 14 and the majority of boytoy 15 known as the Regency took me a while to read considering its brevity possibly because it lent itself to reading in small morsels which could be chewed upon slowly and digested in repose Or perhaps because its many tasty tidbits were interspersed with an euivalent amount of unappealing chaff which needs must be sorted through somewhat laboriously Nevertheless it was a feast for the mind whose courses were carefully arranged to stimulate an appetite for philosophical reflection on topics as varied as human nature sexual politics moral and customary relativity and especially reason vs superstition as our two Persian travelers write home to their friends and wives about the curious practices and prejudices of the Europeans which causes them to reflect sometimes seriously upon their own meurs All of this is written with a witty tongue which causes them to reflect sometimes seriously upon their own meurs All of this is written with a witty tongue is often placed with various degrees of firmness somewhere in the vicinity of the cheek eg They have their little courteous ways which in France would seem inappropriate for example a captain never flogs his soldier without asking his permission and the Inuisition never condemns a Jew to be burnt at the stake without apologizing to him Spaniards who are not burnt at the stake seem to be so fond of the Inuisition that it would seem peevish to deprive them of it I only wish that another Inuisition could be established not against heretics but against heresiarchs who attribute the same efficacy to trivial monastic practices as they do to the seven sacraments who worship everything they venerate and are so pious that they are barely Christians You can find wit and common sense among Spaniards but do not seek these in their books take a look at a Spaniard s library one hal. Olourful observations on the culture differences between West and East culture conjure up Eastern sensuality repression and cruelty in contrast to the freer civilized West but here also unworthy nobles and bishops frivolous women of fashion and conceited people of all kinds. ,
F novels and the other half works of scholasticism you d say that the parts had been chosen and the whole thing put together by some secret enemy of human reason The only one of their books that is Charlestown Blues good is the one that makes fun of all the others107That oneood book full of all of the humours of humankind is of course Cervantes Don uixoteHighly recommended for anyone who wishes to encounter the birth of France s Enlightenment the way the French themselves did at the time the book was such a scandale de succ s that its anonymous author dined out not so anonymously on its repute for some years through a clutch of printings and always with a wary eye out for the censor of course In the end I would say of it what Montesuieu himself says of The University of Paris which is the eldest and very elderly daughter of the kings of France for she is than nine hundred years old conseuently she is occasionally confused147 and I would add occasionally boring often outrageous but always very very learned This book a sort of novel is an epistolary story of two Persian travelers Usbek and Rica who travel to Europe Usbek leaves behind five wives and a handful of eunuchs to watch over them The letters are sent from and to a variety of the people and each of them reflect on some form of culture whether the men s perspective of Western civilization or Usbek s wives opinions on their own society and their place within itWhat makes this particularly interesting for me is that while the novel is meant to be a satire and I haven t had much luck with the Charlestown Blues: Selected Poems, a Bilingual Edition genre boo on Candide there is an extensive amount of information about Paris in the early eighteenth century and the end of Louis Lettres Persanes Persian Letters MontesuieuPersian Letters is a literary work written in 1721 by Charles de Secondat baron de Montesuieu recounting the experiences of two Persian noblemen Usbek and Rica who are traveling through France In 1711 Usbek leaves his seraglio in Isfahan to take the long journey to France accompanied by his young friend Rica He leaves behind five wives Zashi Z phis Fatm Z lis and Roxane in the care of a number of black eunuchs one of whom is the head or first eunuch During the trip and their long stay in Paris 1712 1720 they comment in letters exchanged with friends and mullahs on numerous aspects of Western Christian society particularly French politics and Moors ending with a biting satire of the System of John Law Over time various disorders surface back in the seraglio and beginning in 1717 Letter 139 the situation there rapidly unravels Usbek orders his head eunuch to crack down but his message does not arrive in time and a revolt brings about the death of his wives including the vengeful suicide of his favorite Roxane and it appears most of the eunuchs 1970 1320 215 18 1387 424 1392 504 9789641720096 1711 1720 1721 1721 1728 26041399 A remarkable book Its topics read as if written in 2010 Persian Iranian Islam trying to convert Armenian Christians and Zoroastrians because of the new Shah s edict Hence all the Armenians fled emptying with a stroke of the pen all the skilled workmen and all the businessmen of PersiaThen there are theender issues letters written by favorite wives in the seraglio to their husband in Paris or the chief eunuch s letters on the difficulty of Building the South Side guarding the seraglio especially Roxanne Then there s the historical comparatist reflections say on slavery in Rome versus slavesuarding the seraglio Roman slaves were very productive and could row very rich from tours of Roman tombs and Neapolitan tombs from the Roman era I know this to be true their wealth sometimes rew because Senators for example were debarred from money making except as land owners and patronsOne of the fictitious letter writers compares Roman slaves in their industry and eventual wealth enough to buy their and their families freeedom to the lazy luxuriousness of Persian slaves whose only job is to uard the seraglio This is a stunner to read a work from 60 years before the Declaration of Independence that addresses many issues that populate our evening news as well as some issues Roman slavery that would be discussed if we TV watchers were smarter The reflections on religion are astute and timeless For instanceIt is observable that the members of the minority religions commonly make themselves useful to their country than those of the established religion because being excluded from all honours they can only render themselves considerable by their opulence they are led to acuire it by their industry and to embrace the most toilsome employments in the society What better argument for varieties of religions and against majority religions whether Islam in Iran or Evangelicalism in the US What better description of Jews as minority making themselves the most useful and opulent 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 is immensely dull unless you re sort of person who ets off on descriptions of Harem life Such people are I m sure less common now than they were in the 18th century A eneral 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 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 seeing France and some other parts of Europe for the first time all ood 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 ood tyranny love of money theology badBut I oversimplify because easily the best thing about the book is stoicism nature ood tyranny love of money theology badBut I oversimplify because easily the best thing about the book is free floating it is I found it virtually impossible to tell when Montesuieu 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 I started this by chance just before embarking on Unfabling the East by J rgen Osterhammel I ll discuss this book when I review Osterhammel. Are satirized Storytellers as well as letter writers Montesuieu's Usbek and Rica are disrespectful and witty but also serious moralists Persian Letters was a succès de scandale in Paris society and encapsulates the libertarian critical spirit of the early eighteenth century.

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