In 1760, the French playwright Charles Palissot de Montenoy wrote Les Philosophes – a scandalous farcical comedy about a group of opportunistic self-styled philosophers. Les Philosophes emerged in the charged historical context of the pamphlet wars surrounding the publication of Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie, and delivered an oblique but acerbic criticism of the intellectuals of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, including the likes of Diderot and Rousseau.
This book presents the first high-quality English translation of the play, including critical apparatus. The translation is based on Olivier Ferret’s edition, and renders the text into iambic pentameter to preserve the character of the original. Adaptations are further provided of Ferret’s introduction and notes.
This masterful and highly accessible translation of Les Philosophes opens up this polemical text to a non-specialist audience. It will be a valuable resource to non-Francophone scholars and students working on the philosophical exchanges of the Enlightenment.
Moreover, this translation – the result of a year-long project undertaken by Jessica Goodman with six of her undergraduate French students – expounds the value of collaboration between scholar and student, and, as such, provides a model for other language tutors embarking on translation projects with their students.