Skip to main content

Artists

Nicholas Cronk

Speaker


Nicholas Cronk is Professor of European Enlightenment Studies at the University of Oxford, and Director of the Voltaire Foundation. He is particularly interested in literature and culture of eighteenth-century France, and has written widely on Voltaire, including Voltaire: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2017). He is general editor of the Complete works of Voltaire, and president of the Société des études voltairiennes at the Sorbonne. He is at present working on the problems of Voltaire’s correspondence and on a critical edition of his Lettres sur les Anglais, the book that Voltaire wrote after his visit to England in the 1720s.

The Voltaire Foundation, based in a building in Banbury Road, Oxford, is a department of the University that specialises in research in the European Enlightenment. It organises lectures, seminars and conferences, and has an active publication programme, both print and digital. In partnership with Liverpool University Press, it is responsible for the leading book series in the area, Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment. Founded in 1955, and numbering over 600 volumes, this collection is now also available online. The other core publication of the Foundation is the Complete works of Voltaire / Œuvres complètes de Voltaire, the first ever scholarly edition in French of the totality of Voltaire’s writings. This mammoth undertaking was begun in 1968, and early next year, in 2021, we will be holding a party at the Bodleian Library to celebrate the completion of the edition – in 203 volumes. If you are thinking of buying it – please do! – you will need around 9.5 metres of shelving… The Foundation is currently planning to transform these volumes into Digital Voltaire, which will take up less space. Also next year the Voltaire Foundation will be launching an online edition of another important French philosophe, Digital d’Holbach.

Nicholas Cronk has a long-standing interest in Voltaire’s poetry, much of it occasional verse written for polite society and not intended for publication. This ephemeral verse – what the French call poésie fugitive – was hugely appreciated in the eighteenth century, and we have underestimated its interest and influence. A number of Voltaire’s poems were set to music, and an exploration of Voltairean song can provide us with new insights into his verse.

Last updated: Jul 2020