Persian Letters by Margaret Mauldon
(Oxford World's Classics)

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Oh! Monsieur is Persian? That's most extraordinary! How can someone be Persian?'

Two Persian travellers, Usbek and Rica, arrive in Paris just before the death of Louis XIV and in time to witness the hedonism and financial crash of the Regency. In their letters home they report on visits to the theatre and scientific societies, and observe the manners and flirtations of polite society, the structures of power and the hypocrisy of religion. Irony and bitter satire mark their comparison of East and West and their quest for understanding. Unsettling news from Persia concerning
the female world of the harem intrudes on their new identities and provides a suspenseful plot of erotic jealousy and passion.

This pioneering epistolary novel and work of travel-writing opened the world of the West to its oriental visitors and the Orient to its Western readers. This is the first English translation based on the original text, revealing this lively work as Montesquieu first intended.

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About Margaret Mauldon

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Charles-Louis de Secondat was born in 1689 at La Brède, near Bordeaux, into an eminent family of parlementaires. His mother died when he was ten and Charles-Louis was sent to Paris to be educated and completed a law degree in Bordeaux in 1708. He returned to Paris in order to finish his education, staying until his father died in 1713. In 1714 he became a councilor at the Bordeaux Parlement and a year later married a Huguenot lady, Jeanne de Lartigue, probably for her money. They had three children. A year after their marriage Charles-Louis inherited the barony of Montesquieu and the post of président à mortier at the Bordeaux Parlement and five years later, in 1721, he published anonymously in Holland the Persian Letters, which ran into ten editions in one year. From 1721 to 1725 he lived in Paris frequenting fashionable society and conducting several love-affairs. He sold his post of président in 1726 because of financial difficulties, was elected to the French academy in 1727 and spent the next three years traveling in Europe (he stayed about eighteen months in England and became a freemason). He returned to France working mainly in Paris but occasionally traveling to the southwest to look after his estates and wine business. During this period his persistent eye troubles got worse and he gave up freemasonry because of the Church's disapproval. In 1748 he published his most important work, The Spirit of Laws, which made an immediate impression and caused a lot of controversy. Montesquieu died in Paris of a fever in 1755. In 1751 The Spirit of Laws was placed on the Vatican Index and likewise the Persian Letters in 1761.Christopher Betts was born in 1936 and is at present a lecturer in the School of French Studies at the University of Warwick.Christopher Betts was born in 1936 and is at present a lecturer in the School of French Studies at the University of Warwick.
Published April 17, 2008 by OUP Oxford. 314 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Law & Philosophy, Education & Reference, History, Biographies & Memoirs, Travel. Fiction

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