The Omnivore recommends…
The Levee of Voltaire at Ferney after 1759 by Jean Huber
In order to avoid becoming a Sebastian Horsley shrine, the Omnivore has decided to turn its attention to another dandy currently residing in the underworld, Voltaire.
A new biography by Ian Davidson has unleashed the most intense bout of fawning over a Frenchman since Cantona saved the 1996 FA cup final. Sam Leith in the Spectator summarised the great man’s career:
Voltaire’s was a long and amazing life. He was tragedian, satirist, mathematician, courtier, exile, jailbird, swindler, gardener, plutocrat, watchmaking entrepreneur, penal reform campaigner, celebrity, provocateur, useless loan-shark, serial feuder, coward, astronaut, niece-shagger, spy . . . Except ‘astronaut’, obviously. I made that up to check you were still paying attention. But he did shack up with his niece, the filthy old goat.
Davidson’s Voltaire: A Life received excellent reviews in the British press. As many of the critics intimated, however, you would have to be more useless than Marie-Antoinette’s PR officer to write a boring biography about – Sam Leith’s choice words again – “one of the world’s great kickers-against-the-pricks”.
Read all the reviews here.