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Philosophical Dictionary (Penguin Classics) Paperback – March 6, 1984

4.1 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation)

About the Author

Voltaire (1694 - 1778) became known in Paris for his satires and odes, and his frist tragedy Oedipe was performed with great success. He was imprisoned in the Bastille twice in his life and after the second time spent time in England (1726 - 29). He returned to France, but his political opinions meant he was never really safe there and he eventually settled in Geneva, where he remained until near the end of his life and wrote his most famous works, including Candide. Theodore Beterman is the founder and director of the Institut et Musee Voltaire, and author of the standard biography on Voltaire.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised ed. edition (March 6, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014044257X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140442571
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #513,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bruce Kendall VINE VOICE on July 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have kept this book by my bedside at many points in my life. I should first acknowldege that I also refer to the Bible occasionally, so I tend to draw strength and inspiration from dispirate sources. Voltaire was one of the true intellectual giants of his age, as well-read, erudite and witty as any personage in literary history. This book represents a distillation of all his writings, his "encyclopedic" entries, his treatises, his histories, etc. Reading these musings, you will well understand his occasional need to flee France for more liberal principalities (Prussia and Geneva, primarily).
Voltaire (the pen-name for Francois-Marie Arouet (1694-1778), like Gibbon, is no champion of Christianity. As a case-in-point, the Emperor Julian, who attempted unsuccessfully to restore the ancient cults in early Byzantium, and opposed the newly state-sanctioned "cult" of Christ, was Voltaire's paragon. For those readers interested in an interesting account of Julian's rule and of this era, Gore Vidal's "Julian" is a very well-written, but slightly flawed (in terms of its scholarship) account of the 4th Century ruler.
I particularly love Voltaire's take on "enthusiasm,": "Or was that word enthusiasm, from disturbance of the entrails, first given to that Pythia who, on the tripod at Delphi, received the spirit of Apollo through a part which seems made only to receive bodies?...It is the rarest of thing to unite reason with enthusiasm." No doubt the religious wars and persecutions that were a part and parcel of his era and French history for the preceeding two centuries no doubt had some bearing on his analysis.
To me, Voltaire is the precursor of Nietsche.
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Format: Paperback
This volume is the great culmination of Voltaire's beliefs. The humor, honesty, cynicism, and perspective that Voltaire is noted for comes shining through in this excellent work. It is a series of articles on subjects important to philosophers of Voltaire's time, such as religion, humanism, and ethics. This book is about 350 pages in Penguin's typical trade-paperback format. I treasure my copy of this book, and I think you will too if you at all like philosophical discussion.
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Format: Paperback
This book is about man's freedom: freedom of thought,freedom of worship, freedom of the mental encroachments that make a man think he has the right to despise, oppress, kill a fellow human being because he is different. This book is about the power of Reason,about the absurdity of racism, war, greed and violence. Voltaire was the father of modern man. His errors were the errors of his age: his wisdom is the wisdom of the better part of man.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have just finished reading Durant's history of Voltaire and decided that I wanted to read more of his actual writings. I have previously read Candide and some of his letters and really appreciated the biting satire.

This version is actually a condensed version of over 300 pages. I found a copy of the original in 6 volumes at over 300 pages each. This work is a `dictionary' arranged in alphabetical order. The subjects he chooses are seemingly random and include such things as `beauty', `corn', `envy', `Joan of Arc', and almost any other thing you can think of.

I found many of the articles to be dated and not very `philosophical', but many others were fascinating. I enjoyed his views on the soul, atheism, and free-will. They were clearly philosophical and were probably considered radical at the time. Many of his radical views are now considered mainstream, but some are still bound to offend. His satire was not as biting as some of his other works, but it still probably caused offence to many of his contemporaries.

I was somewhat disappointed that this was a condensed version, but I still appreciated the opportunity to read more from Voltaire in a Kindle freebie.
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By A Customer on June 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
I'm not your typical philosophe reader, being a high school girl who usually prefers pop music to any sort of book, but there is something about voltaire's writings that appeals to me. Not also are there some great statements made in this book, but clues to what life was like back in his day. Even some of his inaccurate views are valuable because they show how people viewed concepts like Islam. His writing is witty, yet rational and even though sometimes difficult to interperet in modern language, if you read in serveral times and refer to a dictionary often you will understand what he is saying. Although some of the articles are irrelevent for today's world they are useful in historical context and there are many articles that are and always will be relwvent. Don't pass this book off as old fashioned, Voltaire never goes out of style.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While I, too, enjoyed getting a Kindle freebie, this bears little resemblance to the original (I am fortunate to have a first English edition from 1765). I was hoping to have a Kindle version much like the printed copy, but found that many of his more enjoyable and interesting topics (especially religious) were omitted by your editors including Abraham, Angel, Baptism, Beasts, Body, Chinese and Japanese Catachism, Christianity -- the list goes on and on. Why such a different version might have been explained with your translator/transcriber notes in the Kindle version.
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