This chapter shows how Oliver Goldsmith managed to compose his enigmatic Memoirs of M. de Voltaire, traditionally regarded as a biography brilliantly written, with a real feel for Voltaire the man, but full of egregious errors. However, when one realises that this was the first biography of Voltairle in any language, its merits become more astonishing than its defects. Where did Goldsmith cull his material? I attempt to show that this was largely from a series of occasional pieces, including letters and other biographical or pseudo-biographical material, published regularly in editions of his complete works, under titles like 'Melanges'. The Cramer edition of 1756 is the only one to contain all the pieces in question, so I argue that it was this, probably borrowed from Ralph Griffiths, that inspired Goldsmith's biography.
|Title of host publication||Les Vies de Voltaire: discours et representations biographiques, XVIIIe-XXIe siecles|
|Editors||Christophe Cave, Simon Davies|
|Place of Publication||Oxford|
|Publisher||University of Oxford|
|ISBN (Print)||978 0 7294 0929 2|
|Publication status||Published - 2008|