Il Dictionnaire philosophique: opera a pieno titolo o un «guazzabuglio in prosa»?

Marc Hersant


From a philological point of view, a Dictionnaire philosophique never existed as such in Voltaire’s mind: it is but a posthumous ‘work’ created by the editors of his complete works (published at Kehl in 1784) who collected all the editions of the alphabetical works of Voltaire, and other short texts published elsewhere or unpublished at all. In this paper, the author shows how the question whether the Dictionnaire is a ‘rhapsody’ of various texts or a well-structured and coherent unity is anachronistic and distorting in so far as the concept of ‘literary work’ has profoundly changed since the Eighteenth century. He defends the legitimacy of the Kehl’s edition (and of the Nineteenth century editions by Beuchot and Moland that conformed with it) against the criticism of modern philologists. What is more, he justifies it not only historically, but also as a way of reading Voltaire’s polemical prose that still enables us to appreciate the richness and complexity of his thought.


Voltaire; Philosophical Dictionary; Kehl’s edition; modern philology; literary work

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.2421-4124/5161


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