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Title: Voltaire and Clio : from history to story
Author: Pierse, Siofra
ISNI:       0000 0001 3490 3409
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1999
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This thesis proposes to examine Voltaire as 'literary' historian and to compare the theory and practice of his histories with those of contemporary historiographers and historians. The works selected for focus are Voltaire's Histoire de Charles XII (1730) and Le Siècle de Louis XIV (1751). Section I, 'History Voices', centres on the enunciated theory and the actual practice of contemporary history. The prefatory writing of a selection of historians (from among Voltaire's sources) is analysed to identify a prefatory programme. This is subsequently compared to the contemporary practice of writing history and it reveals an intriguing degree of divergence concerning attitudes towards authority, objectivity and truth. Similar analysis is applied to Voltaire's theoretical writing on historiography, revealing a 'historian's voice'. While Voltaire and his contemporaries all discuss questions of the historical author, subject, style, truth, aims and reader, actual contemporary history (excluding Voltaire) discloses a monotonal texture, uniquely concerned with the chosen subject of history. Section II, 'Story Voices', focuses on Voltaire's use of different textual levels in his composition of the story of his histories, that is, the telling, evaluation and presentation of historical and non-historical material within history. Analysis is made of structure, style, use of anecdotes, voices and echoes to investigate the development of a polytonal history which is simultaneously historical and contemporary, analytical and polemical, general and personal. In comparing Voltaire's histories to contemporary histories and to his own enunciated theories of historiography, textual analysis also reveals ambiguities in fact and fiction, in the historical and the storical, in historiography and narrative. A salient feature of the literariness of Voltaire's histories is the presence of duality, ironic tone and polytonal voices, all of which are audible beneath and within the official history. This literariness underlies and comprises the very vitality of Voltaire's history.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Historiography; Textual analysis