Montesquieu, Persian Letters (1721)

The following is an electronic text of Montesquieu's Persian Letters (1721).  The edition is by John Davidson, who translated the novel, wrote an introduction to it and added explanatory footnotes.  It was published by Gibbings & Company in London in 1899 (3 vols.) and is therefore in the public domain.  I assigned selections of this edition to the students in History 385 (France, 1648-1800) at The College of William and Mary during the fall semester of 2002.  They typed them into electronic files and posted them to the Internet, preserving Davidson's editorial apparatus by supplying his explanatory footnotes as internal links.  By doing so they fulfilled part of the computer proficiency requirement for history majors at William and Mary and, more importantly, made a seminal text of the French Enlightenment available to Internet users around the world who read English but not French.  (As far as I know, this is the first e-text of the Persian Letters in English on the Internet.)  I corrected errors and posted some of the selections myself (parts I-VII of Davidson's introduction, and letters 151-161) and am therefore confident that the e-text is reasonably accurate.  Of course, I would be surprised if I didn't fail to catch some errors, and would be grateful if anyone with a better editor's eye than my own reported any mistakes in the text.  Many thanks to Rob Nelson at IT for facilitating this project and to my students for doing such a fine job.

Our class has already begun using the e-text for our principal primary reading on the French Enlightenment, and I hope that college and university classes around the world will do the same.

Ronald Schechter


Links to individual portions of Montesquieu's Persian Letters are located below. You can also search the entire text using the following searchbox.

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John Davidson's INTRODUCTION
I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII

THE MAIN TEXT
"Some Reflections on the Persian Letters," and "Introduction"

Letters:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20,
21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30,
31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40,
41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50,
51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60,
61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70,
71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80,
81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90,
91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100,
101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110,
111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120,
121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130,
131, 132, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140,
141, 142, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150,
151, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157, 158, 159, 160,
161