Lettres Persanes, L'Esprit des Lois

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Date: 1721, 1751

Region: Europe

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion Religious

Medium: Literature


Artist: Montesquieu, Baron Charles Louis (1686-1755)

Confronting Bodies: Fleury of the Academy Francaise; The Roman Catholic Church

Dates of Action: 1721, 1751

Location: France, Rome

Description of Artwork: Lettres Persanes, 1721: a satire on the social, political, ecclesiastical, and literary follies of the day. L'Esprit des Lois, 1748: the author denounces the abuse of the French monarchical system. This work is one of the great works in the history of political theory and in the history of jurisprudence.

The Incident: 1721, France: Lettres Persanes was published anonymously. 1751, France: The Sorbonne planned but did not carry out a regular censure of the author for his book L'Esprit des Lois.

Results of Incident: 1721, France: Lettres Persanes shocked Fleury. Montesquieu was not admitted to the Academy until seven years after the publication. 1721 Rome, Italy: Lettres Persanes listed on the Index, where it remained until 1948.

1751 Italy-Rome: L'Esprit des Lois, prohibited by the church authorities, although not with the entire approval of the Pope.

Source: Banned Books 387 B.C. to 1978 A.D., by Anne Lyon Haight, and Chandler B. Grannis, R.R. Bowker Co, 1978.