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Celebrating Voltaire : A Symposium

Puce noire 21 juin 2016

McGill University in Montréal sponsored a Symposium on 9th March to celebrate its recent acquisition of J. Patrick Lee’s Voltaire Collection. [...]Retour ligne automatique
The Symposium proved worthy of this remarkable collection. Held in the ballroom of the University Faculty Club, a capacity audience of students, academics, and members of the public was treated to series of lectures (some in French and some in English) presenting an overview of Voltaire’s life and career. Recurring themes were Voltaire’s role in promoting Enlightenment values and his battles against intolerance, superstition and religious fanaticism (Josiane Boulad-Ayoub), his relationship with England and the English (Richard Virr, Edward Langille), his latter day image as the patriarch of Ferney (Simon Davies), and, of course, his image beyond the grave (Hans-Jurgen Lüsebrink). McGill Librarian Ann Marie Holland talked on the many versions of the Dictionnaire philosophique held in the Lee Collection.Retour ligne automatique
Towards the end of the afternoon, the participants engaged in an exhilarating roundtable discussion on the question : ‘Why does Voltaire matter in the 21st century ?’ which inevitably focused on the religious fanaticism of last year’s murderous attacks in France (Ethel Groffier, Ugo Dionne, Benoît Melançon, Mitia Rioux-Beaulne). [...]Retour ligne automatique
The keynote address was delivered by the Enlightenment historian Robert Darnton, who took us (happily) back to the eighteenth century and its fascination with Voltaire, the best-selling author. Darnton’s account of how the 75 year-old played publishers off, one against the other, in order to secure for his monumental Questions sur l’Encyclopédie as wide a readership as possible, provided a riveting conclusion to the day’s proceedings. [---]Retour ligne automatique
The acquisition of the J. Patrick Lee Voltaire Collection at McGill University puts the land of ‘quelques arpents de neige’ on the map as an important centre of Voltaire and Enlightenment scholarship.Retour ligne automatique
E. M. Langille, St Francis Xavier University


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