Lot #466
Voltaire Auograph Letter Signed

To his Parisian publisher on “the fourth and fifth canto of the Henriade”
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Estimate: $3000+


To his Parisian publisher on “the fourth and fifth canto of the Henriade”

ALS in English, signed “Volt,” one page, 5.25 x 7.25, no date but circa early 1740s. Letter to Prault, a printer and bookseller. In full: “I have receiv’d madam a parcel of sheets taken from the fourth and fifth canto of the Henriade. You and yr husband have both thought the little marqs signified some new alterations, made in these places, and lost by negligence and oversight. No. These little marques were only memorandum for me. I designed to alter these passages but upon better thoughts I wav’d it, therefore go on without any scruple. I wish that work would be left unworthy of the trouble you take.” Apparently affixed to a slightly larger sheet and displayed within a rotating wooden frame with an engraved portrait on the opposite side to an overall size of 10 x 12. In fine condition.

Inspired by Virgil's Aeneid and first published in 1723, La Henriade was one of Voltaire’s two epic poems. It follows Henry IV of Navarre on his personal journey to take back the French throne, thereby achieving his destiny. Written in ten cantos, the first half of the work maintains historical accuracy while the second half transitions into a more imaginary tale—the fourth and fifth cantos mentioned in this letter represent this turning point in plot and style. Voltaire intended La Henriade to be his masterpiece, but despite enjoying commercial success—it was reprinted several times throughout his life—it met with lukewarm reception by critics. The Prault edition was published in 1746 and featured a new preface written by Jean Francois Marmontel as well as notes on the text. Related to the editing and publication of what Voltaire considered his magnum opus, this is a significant letter of the utmost desirability.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts Ft. Sports Cards
  • Dates: #629 - Ended February 09, 2022

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