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The Age of Voltaire (Volume 9): A biography of a great man and the period he embodied. We witness Voltaire's satiric work in the salons and the theater as well as his banishment to England. With him we view the complex relationships between nobility, clergy, bourgeoisie and peasantry in the France of Louis XV. We explore the music of Bach and the struggle between FrederickThe Age of Voltaire (Volume 9): A biography of a great man and the period he embodied. We witness Voltaire's satiric work in the salons and the theater as well as his banishment to England. With him we view the complex relationships between nobility, clergy, bourgeoisie and peasantry in the France of Louis XV. We explore the music of Bach and the struggle between Frederick the Great and Maria Theresa of Austria. And finally we hear an imaginary discussion between Voltaire and Pope Benedict XIV on the significance and value of religion....

Title : The Age of Voltaire
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ISBN : 9780671013257
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 898 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Age of Voltaire Reviews

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2019-06-05 19:04

    The Age of Voltaire (The Story of Civilization #9), Will Durant, Ariel Durantتاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال 1995 میلادیعنوان: تاریخ تمدن مجلد نهم عصر وُلتر؛ نویسنده: ویل دورانت؛ مترجم: سهیل آذری؛ سرویراستار: محمود مصاحب؛ ویراستار: حسن انوشه؛ تهران، سازمان انتشارات؛ 1374؛ در 1101 ص؛ موضوع: تاریخ تمدن قرن 20 مفهرست: پیشگفتار؛ کتاب اوّل: انگلستان؛ کتاب دوّم: فرانسه؛ کتاب سوّم: اروپای میانه؛ کتاب چهارم: پیشرفت دانش؛ کتاب پنجم: حمله به مسیحیّت؛ پایانِ سخن در بهشت؛ •••؛ ا. شربیانی

  • Roy Lotz
    2019-05-27 21:28

    I do not wish to belittle reason, but it should be the servant of love, not of prideWith this volume we reach the third chapter in the Age of Reason, culminating in the figure of Voltaire, who died a decade before the French Revolution. The Age of Voltaire is somewhat different from the preceding volumes in that it isn’t simply a narrative history of Europe during a given time period, divided by country and topic, but instead structures itself around the life of one man: Voltaire. This proves to be an excellent organizational principle, since Voltaire touched nearly every aspect of life during that busy age.Voltaire grows up during the regency, after the death of Louis XIV but when Louis XIV was too young to govern, a time of economic boom and bust. Voltaire writes some plays, poems, and satires, all with much wit and little wisdom, and ends up in the Bastille. Though shut up, he doesn’t shut up. Eventually the French authorities tire of the impish scribbler and banish him to England. There, Voltaire learns the language and explores the little island. He has mixed feelings about Shakespeare but idolizes English liberties. While in England, Durant introduces us to Alexander Pope, who thinks that all partial evil is universal good, despite his curved spine; Henry Fielding, who writes of picaresque foundlings and founds the London police; and Handel, whose hallelujah still brings us good tidings of great joy. We also meet David Hume, who proves that nothing causes anything and that nobody exists; but despite these limitations, people have an innate moral sense that causes them to act virtuously.After that, Voltaire moves back to France. As usual, he writes satires with too much fire, and flees from Paris to settle down with his famous paramour, Émilie du Châtelet, who translates Newton while Voltaire attempts to be a scientist. The translation succeeds, the experiments in both science and love fail, and Voltaire eventually moves on to Prussia on the invitation of Frederick the Great.Durant takes this opportunity to cover the life and music of Johann Sebastian Bach, who is neither witty nor fashionable, and consequently not famous during his lifetime, but whose works will nevertheless survive long after Voltaire’s vanish. Johann Sebastian's son Carl Philipp Emanuel has more success, and finds his way to the court of Frederick the Great, who plays at playing the flute. Frederick, for his part, is philosopher enough to be a skeptic, skeptical enough to be a cynic, and cynical enough to be an effective king.Voltaire, like always, writes more sharply than he thinks, and loses his welcome at Frederick’s court. He eventually decides to move to Geneva and cultivate his garden.Durant here pauses the narrative to give us an overview of the advances in science and mathematics during this time. Three people claim to “discover” oxygen, Scheele, Priestley, and Lavoisier, although it seems unfair that they get the credit, since our bodies discovered oxygen long before our minds caught up. Euler, Lagrange, and d’Alembert analyze, formulate, and discombobulate, and Laplace describes the system of the world while helping to develop the metric system. Volta and Benjamin Franklin make some shocking discoveries, Lamark solves the mystery of the giraffe’s neck, and Linnaeus helps with Voltaire’s garden by giving flowers their Latin names.From there, Durant leads us to the philosophes. These are the French intellectuals, not necessarily philosophers in the strict sense, who attempt to reform the world with reason. They are not academics but public intellectuals, who write with grace and charm. Many write against Christianity; most philosophes are deists or atheists. The outstanding work of the philosophes is the Encyclopédie, a massive attempt to systematize and rationalize our understanding of the world. Diderot, the editor of this project, is the most important of this crowd after Voltaire, although there are many others: d’Holbach, d’Alembert, Helvétius, Grimm, and La Mettrie, who thinks men are just fancy machines.Durant is particularly drawn to the conflict between reason and religion; he thinks it is the defining struggle of our age. He rehearses the arguments for and against religion to exhaustion, and even appends an imaginary dialogue between Pope Benedict XIV and Voltaire to examine the argument once more. As usual, Durant shows himself a sloppy and unoriginal thinker when he ventures to put forward his own theories. He seems to know this, which is probably why he hides his opinions in side-remarks and an imaginary dialogue. As far as can be gleaned from these comments and this dialogue, Durant thinks that the most compelling case for religion is its ability to scare the populace into acting morally and accepting the social order. Personally I have serious doubts that religion improves morals; and besides it seems tremendously condescending to believe that most people need supernatural terrors in order to do the right thing.In any case, as a history of Voltaire’s life and his times, this book is excellent, one of the strongest books in the series. Durant may not be much of a thinker, but he can certainly write.

  • Ron
    2019-05-27 15:18

    A terrific find at a used book sale. I have seen this at antique markets but the seller usually wants to unload a full set. This is old school history, as opposed to the revisionism peddled today. The section about Georgian London with all its highs and lows is especially compelling. Absolutely first rate, it's a shame that we don't see these great volumes in ePub format. Written in 1965. Just 13 reviews here while pure junk gets tens of thousands...oh well...UPDATE - I found this series on the Kobo site in Epub format, now reading the Louis XIV volume.

  • Bev
    2019-06-15 18:24

    I love this series: however I've read so much history that I skipped things that are familiar, concentrating on the historical characters and their interaction. It is the story of western European history from the early 1700's to about 1750. Interesting to see how all the countries connected and what issues resulted in immigrating to America and other countries, especially I didn't know much about the smaller countries. Why was this called the age of Voltaire? He was a philosopher and the Durrants see this as a period when these countries threw off their religious beliefs and that Voltaire was a great influence in that. Previously countries picked one religion and governed by that. With so many beliefs governments expelled the ones they didn't like and ignored others. I love the detail. The books pack a lot of excitement in telling the stories.

  • Erik Graff
    2019-06-04 19:18

    Will and Ariel Durants' Story of Civilization series is unlike most histories in that they pay considerable attention to the lives of ordinary persons, and women, in addition to describing the political, cultural and scientific 'accomplishments' of great men. Will Durant is especially good in explicating the history of ideas as this volume demonstrates, primarily in the field of political philosophy.

  • Lou Chiaramonte, Jr.
    2019-06-05 19:25

    The Durants do it (did it) again! Volume 9 of 11 in the 10,000 some-odd page Story of Civilization. If it wasn't for the audiobook format, I might still be on the first volume!The myopic focus on France, Britain, and Germany in this volume is both a pity and a necessity. There simply wouldn't have been time for the Durants to focus on the development of philosophy and economics in these countries in any shorter space. That said, it is still a pity. All 'mainstream of history' studies run into this problem. At least the Durants acknowledged it as such.--A more complete review to follow, if I ever get the time!

  • Bruce Knotts
    2019-06-19 20:28

    Wonderful book that does much to explain the age we live in now. The book ends with an interesting discussion of the Age of Reason and the reasons for faith. As a Unitarian Universalist, it is fascinating to me how much Unitarianism weaves into Will Durant's later volumes of his History of Civilization. I also adore Will Durant's use of language which is full of humor and interest, which adds so much life and vitality to his topic. Can't wait to read his remaining two volumes. However, I will give them a break for a while, but will definitely return to read the final volumes.

  • Keeko
    2019-05-30 18:09

    The authors bring the 18th Century to life. It seems very much like our time because there are financial scandals and incredible scientific progress in the midst of wars and extreme poverty, and there's a lot of energy by people who are trying to make the world a better place. What I like best about the Durant books is the gentle humor and feeling of kindness. You can feel that they loved writing the books.

  • James Violand
    2019-06-10 20:22

    This review applies to all Durant's History of Civilization. The author does not follow a strictly chronological approach, but emphasizes those events/personages that have developed our Western civilization. He tends to emphasize certain personalities - some of whom I take exception to - but he stresses those things which make Western man unique. The arts have a prominent place in developing our culture and Durant convinces the reader how important they are.

  • Alberto
    2019-05-20 18:09

    Excellent as usual. The epilogue (a dialogue between Voltaire and Pope Benedict) is one of the best written and most even-handed debates between conservatism and liberalism (what Thomas Sowell has dubbed the conflict between the constrained and unconstrained visions) I've ever read.

  • Dovofthegalilee
    2019-05-19 22:29

    After the past several volumes this one went down a lot smoother for me. Perhaps I'm getting giddy at the idea of getting near finishing this bohemeath! After this it will be Gibbon's Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire.

  • Buddy Don
    2019-06-19 19:11

    Wow. I have two volumes remaining in the eleven-volume "The Story of Civilization," after which I'll review the set. Meanwhile I'll simply note that this has been one of the great reads of my life so far.

  • Eric
    2019-05-27 21:05

    This was a great leap forward in my understanding of the Age of Reason. Some of their asides are downright captivating. I'd recommend this to anyone with an interest in understanding how the modern world was created,as long as they had an awful lot of free time on their hands.

  • David
    2019-05-30 16:12

    Durant has combined impressive research with good writing and insightful perspective to document an era that is not fully appreciated by the great grandchildren of the age of Voltaire. Truly we owe the pioneers of that generation a debt of eternal gratitude. Those pioneers lived in an age when men were burned at the stake or broken on the wheel for deviating from orthodoxy, and yet they succeeded in laying the foundations of science and philosophy, of reason and conscience, of tolerance and justice, which was largely absent in the thousand years preceding. Durant summed it up in the final pages: “To the 18th century thinkers, and perhaps the profounder philosophers of the 17th century, we owe the relative freedom that we enjoy in our thought, our speech, and our creeds. We owe the multiplication of libraries, schools, and universities. We owe a hundred human reforms in law and government, in the treatment of crime, sickness, and insanity. To them and the followers of Rousseau, we owe the immense stimulation of mind that produced the literature, science, philosophy, and statesmanship of the 19th century. Because of them, our religions can free themselves more and more from a dulling superstition and a sadistic theology, can turn their backs on obscurantism and persecution, and can recognize the need for mutual sympathy in the diverse tentatives of our ignorance and our hope. Because of those men, we—here and now—can write without fear, though not without reproach. When we cease to honor Voltaire, we shall be unworthy of freedom.”But there was one other fine thought expressed by Diderot, true to me today, that expresses the infinite human condition at the apex of honest humility and tender nobility:“I do not condemn the pleasure of the senses. I, too, have a palate that relishes delicate dishes and delicious wines. I have a heart and eyes, and I like to see a beautiful woman. I like to feel under my hand the firmness and roundness of her gorge, to press her lips to mine, to draw pleasure from her eyes, and to expire in her arms. Sometimes with my friends a little debauch, even a bit tumultuous, does not displease me. But, I will not conceal it from you, it seems to me infinitely sweeter to have helped the unfortunate, to have given salutary counsel, to have read an agreeable book, to take a walk with a man or woman dear to me, to have given some instructive hours to my children, to have written a good page, to fulfill the duties of my place, to say to my beloved tender and sweet words that bring her arms around my neck.”

  • Antonio Nunez
    2019-05-30 20:19

    Having just finished volume 9 of the Durants' Story of Civilization I again conclude, as in preceding tomes, that this must be the best one. The decision of telling the story of the Age of Reason by following Voltaire on his travels, correspondence and quarrels works very well, for it allows coverage of the great personages of the time: Louis XIV, the Hanoverian kings of Britain, Frederick the Great, Maria Theresa. This volume is more a story of ideas than of political or military events, and being less wide-ranging geographically than its predecessors, it is more focused and satisfying. I came away from the book with greater respect for figures like Haendel and Diderot. I must confess I never was too much in love with Les Philosophes. I never did particularly appreciate their continual feuds, their debauched morals, their total contempt for traditions and character, their frequent obscenities. Mostly I resented their myopic trust in human reason, when such reason gave us the Jacobin Terror and the Napoleonic Wars, not to mention Bolshevism and Nazism, responsible for killing and maiming in less than two centuries many more millions that ever suffered under the Inquisition and ecclesiastical censure. In this book I found that some philosophes like Holbach lived exemplary lives. That even old rogues like Diderot where in fact brilliant polymaths and superb writers. That Voltaire built a church in Ferney, that he requested a relic from Rome and received a hairshirt that had been Saint Francis of Assisi's, that he went to weekly mass and sometimes received communion and that he was a lay Franciscan. This increased complexity helped me see much that was good in these men's work that I hadn't seen before. I particularly liked that the authors, without condoning religious persecution and censorship, also show the great value that religious faith usually has for most of its believers. A fine performance indeed.

  • Jerry M
    2019-06-12 14:16

    This is volume 9 of the 11 volume 'A Story of Civilization'. It covers the history of Europe from the death of Louis XIV to the death of Voltaire. Given the range, it is really the history France and England with a little bit of Prussia and the rest thrown in. This a history painted by the personalities of the era. The Durants do a good job with most people but some shine. Madame Pompadour comes out very favorably, as long as you understand how she got her power. Émilie du Châtelet, was someone I was not familiar with, a great scientist for her era. Frederick the Great of Prussia comes off as a sad figure, abused as a child, a truly intelligent leader, the times make the man and the times made him a military genius. Voltaire is a volatile personality, not my favorite person, scheming for every last dollar. At least he was entertaining. The best sections of the book are those on musicians. The Durants must have loved music and their do a wonderful job bringing the elder Back and Handel to life.If this book has a weakness, it is that accounts of Voltaire divided into multiple sections so that one doesn't get a clear idea of the man until late in the book.

  • David Glad
    2019-06-17 17:09

    Will Durant is incredible as always. This one was the best book yet.It really talks economic issues of the time, such as Britain's South Sea Bubble (it even snared Sir Isaac Newton, who lost many thousands of pounds sterling; investment texts of past decades would cite him as proof you do not necessarily need to be a genius to be a superior investor, even if investing had not evolved from speculation back then) along with John Law's infamous Mississippi Company. (Apparently skilled enough as an economist that Russia wanted him to be their finance minister after he fled the mobs of France.)These definitely were exciting and enlightened times and I did find it a nice touch a hypothetical conversation between Pope Benedict and Voltaire postmortem where they wanted various subjects at the very end of the book.

  • Samy
    2019-06-12 21:23

    أخيرا بعد ثلاث محاولات فاشلة منذ أكثر من سنتين أعود لأنهى هذا الكتاب وبطبيعة الحال أضاف الكثير والكثير من المعلومات التى لم أكن أعرفها.وبرغم أن أسم الكتاب عصر فولتير فإنه لا تبدو فيه ملامح السيرة الذاتية لفولتير بقدر تناولها لعصره فالكتاب مكون من جزئين الأول وبرغم من أن بدءا بنشأة فولتيير إلا أن ذلك كان سريعا فالجزء الأول تناول بشكل مكثف سياسة واحوال بريطانيا الداخلية وعادات أهلها وحركة الفلسفة والأدب والفنون.أما الجزء الثانى فتناول الحالة الداخلية أيضا فى فرنسا وطبقاتها وعاداتها وصراعاتها وحركةالفلسفةو الأدب والفنون والمسارح وفى نهايته يركز سريعا على فولتيير وحياته فى فرنسا حتى مماتهالكتاب فتح أفقا جديد فى عقلى

  • أَحمدْالهوّارى
    2019-06-18 21:13

    يمكن القول إجمالا بأنه حتي منتصف القرن الثامن عشر كانت إنجلترا بارعة سياسياً ومتقدمة تجارياً وأكثر سطوة حربياً وخائبة فنياً، وأعلي السُلم الإجتماعي وأسفله كانوا يمثلون المسخ الأخلاقى بكافة صوره. الواقع الفرنسى لم يختلف عن هذه الصورة كثيراً إلا في ظهور التفوق الإنجليزى في الجوانب السياسية والحربية والتجارية.

  • Tom
    2019-05-30 14:08

    I am surely, but slowwwwly, working my way through the Durant's truly magisterial "Civilization" series and the effort of the 17th Century matches its predecessors in both its scope and breadth. You all know the honours this brilliant series earned. Trust me, each was well deserved.

  • Douglas Dalrymple
    2019-05-31 19:09

    A re-read, though I only skimmed it this time. It’s a sturdily written, enlightening (no pun intended) book. Durant’s summaries (see his overview of Hume, for example) and biographical snapshots are terrific. The flavor and sweep of the Enlightenment era is captured wonderfully.

  • Dayla
    2019-05-19 20:29

    I put this book into the "literature" bookshelf because it is so beautifully written. This book is a series, which I am sure goes unchallenged as far as the writing. Both Will and Ariel Durant are without peer. Truly.

  • Blake Brownrigg
    2019-06-10 16:17

    This felt like a more representative work of Durant's, as it dealt with one of his central concerns: the interplay of religion (feeling) and philosophy (reason).

  • Ruth
    2019-06-12 14:10

    Civilization in Western Europe from 1715 to 1756 ... Emphasis on the Conflict Between Religion and Philosophy. 898 pages. Donated to the library 2010 March.

  • Kerwin
    2019-06-14 21:23

    One of Durant's best-chock-full-of-nuts!

  • Stephen
    2019-05-24 18:14

    The ninth work in Will Durant’s sweeping Story of Civilization, The Age of Voltaire picks up with the death of the Sun King in the dawn of the Enlightenment. It’s an age of tumultuous change; though its survey ends before the French revolution, Europe is already in the throes of the industrial and scientific revolutions. New worlds are opening; not only are new goods flowing in from the recently-discovered parts of the globe, but western man’s entire worldview is shifting. The modern age is dawning. Voltaire follows the titular philosopher as he travels from France to England, Germany, and later Switzerland, though the first three countries are Durant’s focus here. As with the rest of Durant’s integral history, this book carries weight because it examines not only political and military history, but considers in depth the literary, artistic, philosophical, and religious developments of the time. These ideas are not isolated from one another; individualistic philosophy drives changes in both politics and religion, weakening the claims of absolutist monarchy and state churches alike. England grows with the times; her king is superseded by Parliament and the prime minister. France hardens and resists, but the tide of history sweeping Europe will break it as surely as the waves break shorelines.Of course, in this era it's less a gentle tide and more of a water-cannon. The radicals of the era are not content with careful, prudent change; no, things must be set on fire. Christianity is beyond reform for the rising philosophes; the world must be overturned, priests must die, churches must be burned. This is the cradle of the French revolution, the nursery of those who would take a machete to society until their ideals are satisfied. On a more constructive note, science and technological prowess are abounding, and Durant sets aside a large segment of the book to look at it seperately.Durant is a genteel moderate on the religion and philosophy debate; from Our Oriental Heritage on, he has favored religion as an institution offering stability, comfort, beauty, and more to the human race, though he is never blind to its abuses. His conclusion, a dialogue between a pope and Voltaire, makes plain his attitude that the tumultuous era his history is heading into is one of mixed blessings; while Durant is thankful that the rise of the philosophes advanced human liberty, checking the abuses of monarchy and organized religion alike, in their enthusiasm they became arrogant.Benedict: You thought it possible for one mind, in one lifetime, to acquire such scope of knowledge and depth of understanding as to be fit to sit in judgment upon the wisdom of the race --upon traditions and institutions that have taken form out of the experience of the centuries. Tradition is to the group what memory is to the individual; and just as the snapping of memory may bring insanity, so a sudden break with tradition may plunge a whole nation into madness like France and the revolution. [....] We should be allowed to question traditions and institutions, but with care that we do not destroy more than we can build. p. 788As with his judgment of the impact of the reformation, the entire dialogue puts his tender appreciation for both sides, and the wisdom in appreciating them both, on display. I suspect his criticism will grow a little sharper in the next volume.

  • Marts(Thinker)
    2019-06-06 21:30

    Volume nine of the eleven volume 'Story of Civilisation' by Will and Ariel Durant. Here, 18th century in focus...

  • John
    2019-06-03 18:30

    enlightenment,history,nonfiction,The Story of Civilization

  • Glenn Robinson
    2019-06-02 18:07

    As with all of the books of Durant, this one is very thorough of Western and Central Europe. This one is wrapped up in the bio of Voltaire, who lived in France, then England, Germany and Switzerland and finally back to France. The arts, the sciences, the wars, the many political changes are all dealt with here. What is not dealt with is the other parts of the world, except for a few sentences here and there. Russia, North America, China, India all get one or a few sentences. Other places, not a mention although than if the explorers might have touched down.Overall, the details of what was covered was worth it.

  • Rob Markley
    2019-06-18 20:01

    The magnificent series continues. The Durants are witty, astute and very insightful