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Publisher's Summary

Discover why intellectuals and historians alike consider Voltaire to be one of the most intriguing, influential, and elusive thinkers of the modern world. Focusing on the deepest, most enduring aspects of Voltaire's work and thought, but never losing sight of the colorful, fascinating man himself, these 12 lectures sketch for you a vibrant, thought-provoking vision of Voltaire as "the father of the Enlightenment" and one of the great literary personalities of all time.
You'll follow this Enlightenment thinker's 84 astoundingly productive years and go inside not only his masterpiece, Candide, but the hundreds of other works in almost all the literary, philosophical, and polemical genres current in his day, and the more than 20,000 letters this prolific writer and thinker left behind.
What was Voltaire's world like? Who and what influenced him? What questions and dilemmas did he ponder? What evils did he struggle against? What reforms did he advocate? What made him laugh and cry, or write a book like Candide, which is at once so funny and so sad? And what is his place in the history of the Western mind? The answers to these and other questions can be found right here in this illuminating lecture series. If you're unfamiliar with Voltaire and his works, prepare to meet one of Western literature's defining writers. And if you already have some familiarity with the man, prepare to discover even more insights into why he still matters after all these years.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2001 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2001 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By EmilyK on 03-26-15

Enlightenment ideas still relevant today

This was one of my favorite Great Courses. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. My only real exposure to Voltaire before this was reading Candide in high school. The professor has such passion for the topic, and manages to pass it on to the listener. I felt I learned so much about not just Voltaire but the times he lived in, especially about the forces in French society that led to the revolution, and the figures of the Enlightenment that continue to impact us today.

I thought Prof. Kors was one of the best professors in the Great Courses series -- I always looked forward to listening to him.

I also thought this one was perfect on audio. I never had any confusion because this wasn’t in video form. And I find I make much more progress on Great Courses that are in audio since I’m not tethered to the TV. That said, anyone new to the Great Courses should realize that they sound like a professor lecturing (which is what it is) and not like a narrator reading an audiobook. I actually find that more engaging, but I realize some listeners prefer a smooth narration, rather than someone lecturing from a podium.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By William L Eckman on 12-29-17

Voltaire challenges all professors, Kors does well

What made the experience of listening to Voltaire and the Triumph of the Enlightenment the most enjoyable?

The passion of the professor.

What other book might you compare Voltaire and the Triumph of the Enlightenment to and why?

Anthony Padgen The Enlightenment and Why it Still Matters

Have you listened to any of Professor Alan Charles Kors’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No. But, I know his politics are different than mine but, he skillfully kept his libertarian/conservatism from the lectures.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The parade in France for Voltaire near the end of his life.

Any additional comments?

Does history offer an intellectual peer for Voltaire? His prodigious writing was not something I was aware of before these lectures. 8 million words boggles the mind.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By denise on 05-11-17

Great overview of Voltaire

Always wanted to have an understanding of the Enlightenment and Voltaire- this course doesn't disappoint! 5 Stars

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5 out of 5 stars
By murray on 03-15-15


Where does Voltaire and the Triumph of the Enlightenment rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Just amazing. Brilliantly lucid lectures on Voltaire. Loved this so much, passionately dictated bar the author's misguided understanding of Voltaire and tolerance. Highly recommended.

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