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The Persian Letters

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  3,316 ratings  ·  65 reviews
Tells the story of two Persian noblemen who have left their country - the modern Iran - to journey to Europe in search of wisdom. This title explains the libertarian, critical spirit of the early eighteenth century.
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 352 pages
Published April 30th 1973 by Penguin Books (first published 1721)
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The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-ExupéryLes Misérables by Victor HugoThe Stranger by Albert CamusThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre DumasMadame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Best French Literature
91st out of 602 books — 1,108 voters
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Epistolary Fiction
89th out of 358 books — 469 voters

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Community Reviews

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Montesquieu may not be known to you, but he is largely responsible for the system of checks and balances in the U.S. Constitution between the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government. The Founding Fathers of our country were deeply influenced by Montesquieu's The Spirit of the Laws, which he wrote later in life.

The Persian Letters, however, was written a quarter century earlier and was one of the most popular books of its time. Montesquieu has, in effect, created an epistolary

How to sell a book 300 years old to a modern reader? What is the appeal today of the epistolary musings of a couple of Oriental travellers having a first contact with Western civilization at the end of King Louis the 14th? Here are some points that I hope will tickle your interest:

1 - The Persian Letters were not written as history, but as a contemporary satire of French civilization, using ridicule and common sense to expose the more unsavoury mentalities and practices of fellow countrymen. Thi
لا أعرف ما شعوري تجاه هذا الكتاب ..

في الصفحات الاولى شعرت بالملل، ولم أفهم فائدة هذا الكتاب، ولكن مع تقدمي قي القراءة أصبحت لا أستطيع مفارقته وأصبحت أختلس لحظات صغيرة من هنا وهناك لأقرأ رسالة جديدة من رسائل الكتاب البالغة 161 رسالة

فهذه الرسائل تشكل رواية فلسفية كُتبت على طريقة الرسائل المتبادلة بين أشخاص الرواية، منها ما هو جد شيق ويحبس الأنفاس، ومنها ما هو على شكل مقالة أدبية إجتماعية سامية، لو حذفنا العنوان واسم المرسل إليه، لما خالجني شك بأنها قطعة من مقالة مفردة لا رسالة

أهم ما في هذه الرسائ
Justin Evans
The nice thing about reading early 'novels' is that they so often have nothing in common with a typical contemporary novel. That's definitely the case for PL, of which only the first dozen and the last half dozen pages are are connected in any kind of narrative. Not only that, the narrative is immensely dull, unless you're the sort of person who gets off on descriptions of Harem life. Such people are, I'm sure, less common now than they were in the 18th century. A general warning: if you're pron ...more
This book, "a sort of novel", is an epistolary story of two Persian travelers, Usbek and Rica, who travel to Europe. Usbek leaves behind five wives and a handful of eunuchs to watch over them. The letters are sent from and to a variety of the people, and each of them reflect on some form of culture, whether the men's perspective of Western civilization or Usbek's wives' opinions on their own society and their place within it.

What makes this particularly interesting for me is that while the novel
Un classique toujours aussi agréable.
Une lecture assez proche des "Bijoux indiscrets" de Diderot, mais que j'ai préférée à celle-ci par certains aspects: tout d'abord, le choix du roman épistolaire qui atteste en quelque sorte l'authenticité du récit, bien qu'il aurait davantage pu en déployer toutes les possibilités comme l'a fait Laclos plus tard. Ensuite, la trame amoureuse qui parcourt tout le roman, tout comme dans les "Bijoux", m'a beaucoup plu, surtout par sa conclusion. Celle-ci montre les limites de la philosophie d'Usbek: ...more
A remarkable book. Its topics read as if written in 2010: Persian/ "Iranian" Islam trying to convert Armenian Christians and Zoroastrians because of the new Shah's edict. Hence, all the Armenians fled, emptying with a stroke of the pen "all the skilled workmen, and all the businessmen of Persia."
Then there are the gender issues, letters written by favorite wives in the seraglio to their husband in Paris; or, the chief eunuch's letters on the difficulty of guarding the seraglio, especially Roxann
كنت دائما ما أطرب لأولئك الذين ينقدون منطرف خفي نتيجة لظروف سياسية او اجتماعية او دينية تمنعهم من النقد الصريح أو ربما اختيارا لأسلوب أبلغ وأشد ايقاعا في النفس من المباشرة المملة والمكرورة.
في سنين سبقت الربيع العربي كنت استمتع بمقالات لكاتب يدعز "ماهر عبد الجليل" من تونس في صحيفة الحياة اللندنية.. كانت تلك المقالات لا تخرج عن الاطار الاجتماعي البحت لكنها ترسل اشد رسائل النقد السياسي في ثنايا الكلمات والحديث.
مونتسكيو هنا وفي قالب درامي وبالرسائل الاخوانية متقمصا شخصيات تنتمي لشعب آخر قرر بعض افرا
T.F. Rhoden
Any book that has the staying power that this title has had will have merit. Published nearly three hundred years ago (in 1721), Persian Letters by Montesquieu is an epistolary novel that traces the fictional correspondence between two eighteenth-century Persians and their countrymen as they travel through the occidental world for the first time, eventually settling in Paris for a decade during the remaining years of Louie XIV’s reign. The book illustrates what we would now call today culture sh ...more
En commençant la lecture des Lettres persanes un peu par hasard, je ne m'attendais pas à trouver ce livre si agréable. Du début à la fin, cela aura été une vraie surprise.

Ce livre a été écrit par Montesquieu il y a plus de 290 ans et pourtant de nombreux thèmes continuent de résonner dans nos sociétés modernes et peuvent être source de réflexion.

Pour éviter une attaque trop directe, Montesquieu prend pour prétexte une correspondance entre étrangers comparant la vie en Europe, plus particulièreme
Boring... Maybe reading it in original didn't help either. Most of what was written is so long outdated, that in order for it to have been interesting, the form and the literary qualities should have been of a much greater value then they are. I guess it's a matter of taste, I don't find letter-novels very appealing. And sometimes I had a hard time finding the connection between the letters - it's not like a book that goes from a beginning to an end, it's just a collection of facts and view of ...more
subjectively and exoticly representational
فاطمة الابراهيم
هذا الكتاب أشبه بمن يدس في الحساء رساله ملفوفه بعناية لسجين !

أكثر من مائة وخمسون رسالة يعبر الفليسوف الفرنسي الساخط مونتسكيو على مجتمعه الباريسي الذي بالغ في تحرره لحد الفجور والتباهي بالمعاصي ، وقد تروق للبعض تلك الرسائل لأنها اسردت كرواية إلا أنها ليست سوى التنفيس عن غضبه بالنقد والتحليل وإعجابه بثقافة الفرس وطهارة نسائهم ، والتزام ذلك الشعب بالبعد عن المسكرات ولجوئهم لوسائل علاجية أكثر منطقيه بدلاً من الافراط في الرذائل كوسيله للتهرب من المشاكل ، وبين الرسائل يسخر من تلاعب الأساقفة والبابا بت
lézengő reader
Dec 30, 2014 lézengő reader rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to lézengő reader by: Márk
Szeráj, szeráj, szeráj...
Mellseleg a magyar kiadást megszórhatták volna egy csipetnyi jegyzettel, bosszantó, ha még a google sem a barátom, amikor ki szeretném deríteni, mik ezek a zsíros kis 18. századi utalások, pedig nem ijedek meg egy kis keresgéléstől.
There are valuable lessons of life in this collection of letters. I would read them again and again. Each time finding new pieces and learnings to fall in love with. In French especially, this oeuvre is marvelous.
Chedy Riahi
الرسائل الفارسية تعتبر أول رواية في اللغة الفرنسية، نشرها مونتسكيو سنة 1721 في أمستردام لتفادي الحجب، ومع تقديم دوره كمترجم فقط.

،الكتاب مطبوع بسخرية لاذعة تغطيها سذاجة طيبة مصطنعة، ومونتسكيو ينتقد فيه المجتمع الفرنسي (و غيره) من خلال عاداته و السياسة و الدين و الثقافة

عبر المسافرين اوسباك و ريكا تصلنا صورة غير بهية للمجتمع الفرنسي، و يتجاوز مونتسكيو ذلك في عديد المناسبات لإعطاء ملاحظات عامة، منها ما هو عام (ص69: أرى المحمدية ولا أرى محمد، و يظهر أن لمونتسكيو أبوة هذه المقولة/ ص108: لو كان للمثلثا
Piet Michael
Pendant la lecture je reflichissais de quelle importance a été la qualité d'un roman pour transporter les idées d'un philosophe.
J'ai donné à ce livre quatre étoiles, bien qu'il m'ait fallu plus que quatre mois pour le lire entièrement. Le langage est un peu diffiicile, mais les idées sont absolument universel. Peut-être sont-ils également sans bornes temporelles aussi: les critiques du fanatisme religieux, des excès de la mode, de l'avarice et stupidité de l'humanité s'appliquent à nos jours aussi bien qu'à ceux de Montesquieu. Ses observations sur la politique ont elles-même l'air moderne aussi; eh bien, plus ça change. ...more
Ghanem Abdullah
المفكر الفرنسي مونتسكيو، صاحب كتاب “روح القوانين”، يطرح في كتاب “رسائل فارسية” نقدًا سياسيًا واجتماعيًا وثقافيًا، عبر أسلوب جديد مثير، وهو الرسائل التي يغلب عليها روح السخرية والتهكم، المبطنة بالمعاني شديدة اللهجة لما يجري ويحدث في فرنسا خصوصًا وأوروبا عمومًا.

مونتسكيو يختلق قصة أمير مسلم فارسي، اسمه أوزبك، شغوف بالمعرفة والحكمة، فيغادر بلاده نحو الغرب، باحثًا عن أرضٍ يجد فيها بغيته، ويصل باريس ويراسل أهله الذين تركهم وراءَه، ناقلاً لهم مشاهداته وخبراته في الحاضرة الأوروبية العريقة.

لكن مونتسكيو،
Genia Lukin
3.25/3.5 Stars.

This is, in many ways, an important little book. it's a social satire of France in the early 18th century as well as the presentation - in literary form - of some of Montesquieu's doctrine.

It's rather amusing, in many ways, even to the modern reader, though in the case of at least this modern reader, the amusement stemmed more from seeing how the French of 300 years ago perceived the East, more than how they perceived themselves.

Despite the value and amusement of this book, its ma
Christopher Rush
This is a fine book, full of interesting perspectives on 18th-century political, religious, and social issues. It must have been controversial back in the day, and like most things of such a nature, it doesn't make a stir now. Perhaps the most perplexing thing is the editorial-translator work of C.J. Betts. Why does he turn all the French money into British money? It's clear throughout the letters the Persians are mostly in Paris and its environs ... why use British money? Surely even in 1973, t ...more
Czarny Pies
Nov 03, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Des amateurs de satire.
Recommended to Czarny by: Catherine la Grande
Shelves: french-lit
Ce roman 'est un des grands chefs d'oeuvres du siecle des lumieres. Il est constitue d'une serie de lettres de deux diplomats persans mutes a Paris. Chaque letter est une critique satirique sur les usages, moeurs, lois, culture et pratiques religieuses des francais de la premiere moitie du dix-huitieme siecle. Ce livre est tres comique et offre un excellent portrait de notre societe occidentale il y a presque trois cents ans.

Il faut dire que le temps est bien passe pour un grand mise au jour. Je
E.J. Matze
This richly evocative novel-in-letters tells the story of two Persian noblemen who have left their country - the modern Iran - to journey to Europe in search of wisdom. As they travel, they write home to wives and eunuchs in the harem and to friends in France and elsewhere. Their colourful observations on the culture differences between West and East culture conjure up Eastern sensuality, repression and cruelty in contrast to the freer, more civilized West - but here also unworthy nobles and bis ...more
Довольно занимательная книга.

Читая подобные книги понимаешь, что человечество практически не меняется. Арабы, а точнее персияне свежим взглядом хорошо изобразили быт Европы и дали характеристику нравам её граждан ещё в начале 18-го века.

Благодаря данной книге можно понять как на наш мир смотрят наблюдательные люди более отдалённых от европейских государств стран, особенно которых разделяет не только расстояние, но и религия, нравы и обычаи.

Но в книге не только о европейцах, а еще благодаря этой
Typische roman in brievenvorm
Kracht: evolutie van de personages; variatie tussen harem-correspondentie (exotisch, sappig) en saaiere filosofische brie-ven (dienen ook als contrapunt); relativering van de absolute geldigheid van gebruiken en inzichten
- usbek: gericht op wijsheid; inzicht in relativisme en dikwijls sceptisch, maar twijfelaar; meer en meer gericht op rede en deugd; maar niet toegepast op eigen harem; eerder pessimistisch
- Rica: jonge, vitale man; sterk ironiserend en sati
Political/social satire, focus on government and virtue (morality) as related to government. It was surprisingly interesting and easy to read, and I enjoyed myself a lot. There is more of a plot to this book than I expected initially, which kept me engaged in spite of subject-matter that wasn’t exactly an area of special interest for me. I did read this for my Politics in 18th Century Europe class (which is more interesting than one might think), so it was required reading and all that jazz. Sti ...more
I never really truly understand this book while I read it for my class. There are many idea behind it that I just simply don't get.
Emily May
lu trop rapidement pour vraiment en penser quoi que ce soit (il était juste question de relever quelques exemples à mettre en lien avec Voltaire)
moins ennuyeux que j'aurais cru en tout cas
Pierre fondatrice de la scolarité française, les lettres persanes est un passage incontournable de la philosophie des lumières. Les idées développées ici par Montesquieu sont à la fois historiquement fortes (car en opposition avec son époque) et en même temps très modernes. Les échos sont nombreux avec la société actuelle...du moins sur une partie des lettres. Car la seconde moitié du livre finit par lasser et réserve une successions de lettres interminable. Malgré tout, l'impression globale res ...more
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Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu, generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French social commentator and political thinker who lived during the Enlightenment. He is famous for his articulation of the theory of separation of powers, which is taken for granted in modern discussions of government and implemented in many constitutions throughout the world. He wa ...more
More about Montesquieu...
The Spirit of the Laws (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought) تأملات في تاريخ الرومان De L'esprit Des Lois, Tome 1 Montesquieu: Selected Political Writings De L'esprit Des Lois, Tome 2

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“What unhappy beings men are! They constantly waver between false hopes and silly fears, and instead of relying on reason they create monsters to frighten themselves with, and phantoms which lead them astray.” 18 likes
“I can assure you that no kingdom has ever had as many civil wars as the kingdom of Christ.” 15 likes
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