51. The Essai sur le siècle de Louis XIV, to which d’Alembert refers here, was published at the end of 1739. It should not be confused with the great Siècle de Louis XIV, first published in 1751, of which the Essai of 1739 constituted most of the first two chapters. (See Voltaire, Oeuvres complètes, “Avertissement de Beuchot” to the Siècle de Louis XIV, XIV, ix.) At the end of the first edition of the Siècle de Louis XIV, Voltaire included a passage handsomely eulogizing the Encyclopedia, no doubt in part a response to d’Alembert’s recent praises of him in the Preliminary Discourse. (Quoted by Theodore Besterman, Voltaire’s Correspondence [Geneva, 1957], XXI, 38–39.) The continued wooing of Voltaire, especially by d’Alembert, at last attracted him to direct participation in the Encyclopedia in 1754. This was a major victory for the project. Thereafter the spirited correspondence of Voltaire and d’Alembert gives us valuable knowledge of the day-to-day history of the Encyclopedia.

 [ return to text ]