A Literary translation and critical analysis of Voltaire's "Prix de la justice et de l'humanité" (1777)
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On 1 October 1777, the Economic Society of Berne proposed a reform discussion in the Gazette de Berne, that required entrants to ‘compose and write a complete and detailed legislative proposal on criminal matters.’ As a member of the Society, Voltaire composed and submitted his own treatise Prix de la Justice et de l’Humanité (1777), in response to the proposed competition as a gesture of support. Unlike many of his other celebrated works, Prix de la Justice et de l’Humanité was never adequately translated into the English language. However, the following research study has produced a comprehensively annotated literary translation of the first edition of Voltaire’s treatise, including detailed commentaries and an integrated analysis. In order to accurately represent Voltaire’s views about crime and punishment, the following study examined the historical background of Prix de la Justice et de l’Humanité, including its publication and the first edition of the treatise. In addition, Voltaire’s relationship with justice throughout his life as well as his literary style were also examined. Furthermore, a detailed analysis of Prix de la Justice et de l’Humanité is presented, which addresses principal themes in the treatise including corruption, freedom of speech and thought, the death penalty, rationalist thought, and social optimism. Keywords: Criminal theory, legal history, crime and punishment, capital punishment, French enlightenment, criminal law, rationalist thought, social optimism.
KeywordsCrime and punishment