Persian Letters

ISBN-10: 0192806351
ISBN-13: 9780192806352
Edition: 2008
List price: $13.95 Buy it from $5.15
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Description: Persian Letters is a classic of European literature by Baron de Montesquieu, the brilliant thinker who had a huge influence on the Enlightenment. Through the astute observations of his two fictional Persian travelers in Europe--Usbek and  More...

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Book details

List price: $13.95
Copyright year: 2008
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 5/11/2008
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 320
Size: 4.50" wide x 7.75" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.572

Persian Letters is a classic of European literature by Baron de Montesquieu, the brilliant thinker who had a huge influence on the Enlightenment. Through the astute observations of his two fictional Persian travelers in Europe--Usbek and Rica--Montesquieu asks fundamental questions about human nature, the manners and flirtations of polite society, the structures of power, and the hypocrisy of religion-all in a witty, inventive satire that combines travel literature and the epistolary genre. Indeed, this pioneering epistolary novel appeared almost twenty years before Richardson's Pamela. This is the first English translation based on the new, definitive edition of the original French text, revealing this lively work as Montesquieu first intended. The book features an engaging and comprehensive introductory essay, covering a wide range of topics, including the novel's fictional techniques and innovations; travel literature as a genre; historical context and Enlightenment ideas; Orientalism; and other issues. The editor has included full explanatory notes, a useful list of characters, and an invaluable appendix featuring excerpts from Montesquieu's most important sources.

Charles de Secondat, Baron de la Brede et de Montesquieu, French philosopher and political theorist, is viewed variously as the most important precursor of sociology, as the father of modern historical research, and as the first modern political scientist. In The Persian Letters (1721), which was an immediate publishing success, he depicted France as seen by two imaginary Persians and thus demonstrated the possibility for objectivity that he demonstrated 27 years later in The Spirit of the Laws (1748), his masterpiece. On the surface, The Spirit is a treatise on law, but it also describes every domain affecting human behavior and raises questions of philosophical judgment about the merits of various kinds of legislation. It describes three types of government and their principles: Virtue is the principle of republics; honor, of monarchies; and fear, of despotism. With these "ideal types" as starting points, he proceeded to analyze legislation and the state in great detail. He made comparison the central method of his political science and thus directed the focus of inquiry from Europe to all societies in the world. His direct influence on the social sciences has been profound.

Select Bibliography
Note on the Chronology of the Persian Letters
A Chronology of Montesquieu
List of Characters
Persian Letters
Preface
Letters
Supplementary Letters
Some Reflections on the Persian Letters
Extracts from Montesquieu's Sources
Explanatory Notes
Concordance of Letter Numbers

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