The Correspondence of Bernardin de Saint-Pierre
Project Director: Professor Malcolm Cook
Bernardin de Saint-Pierre (1737–1814) was a major figure of the late Enlightenment in France, author of the best-selling novel Paul et Virginie (1788) which was first published as part of a much longer philosophical text, the Études de la Nature (1784).
The aim of the Bernardin de Saint-Pierre project is to publish a complete critical edition of the entire correspondence of the author, beginning in the 1760s when the author was working in Russia at the court of Catherine the Great, and tracing his life as he returned to France via Poland, eventually to work as a military engineer on the Île de France (Mauritius), the setting for his major novel. He returned to Paris in the early 1770s and started to work on his major texts, living on the breadline before his literary success and eventually becoming an important cultural figure of the 1790s.
The correspondence offers a rich insight into the life and activity of a significant figure, showing the letters he received from his readers and his own relations with personal friends, politicians and fellow writers and artists. Over 2500 letters have survived and the edition will be a full critical edition published online by the Voltaire Foundation.