Micromégas, by Voltaire

Publisher’s preface.

Voltaire’s lengthy correspondences do not contain anything that might indicate the period in which Micromegas was published. The engraved title of the edition that I believe to be the original displays no date. Abbot Trublet, in his Biography of Fontenelle, does not hesitate to say that Micromegas is directed against Fontenelle; but does not speak of the date of publication. I have therefore retained that given by the Kehl editions: 1752. However there is an edition carrying the date of 1700. Is this date authentic? I would not make this claim; far from it. I have therefore followed the Kehl editions, in which Micromegas is preceded by this warning:

This novel can be seen as an imitation of Gulliver’s Travels. It contains many allusions. The dwarf of Saturn is Mr. Fontenelle. Despite his gentleness, his carefulness, his philosophy, all of which should endear him to Mr. Voltaire, he is linked with the enemies of this great man, and appears to share, if not in their hate, at least in their preemptive censures. He was deeply hurt by the role he played in this novel, and perhaps even more so due to the justness, though severe, of the critique; the strong praise given elsewhere in the novel only lends more weight to the rebukes. The words that end this work do not soften the wounds, and the good that is said of the secretary of the academy of Paris does not console Mr. Fontenelle for the ridicule that is permitted to befall the one at the academy of Saturn.

The notes without signature, and those indicated by letters, are written by Voltaire.

The notes signed with a K have been written by the Kehl publishers, Mr. Condorcet and Mr. Decroix. It is impossible to rigorously distinguish between the additions made by these two.

The additions that I have given to the notes of Voltaire or to the notes of the Kehl publishers, are separated from the others by a — and are, as they are mine, signed by the initial of my name.


October 4, 1829.


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