Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


La Princess de Babylone 1768 has been neglected by modern scholarship. A study of Voltaire's correspondence for the period covering the conte's genesis, composition, and publication reveals that the merry, optimistic tone of La Princess de Babylone, so different from other contes of the period, reflects a singularly happy time in Voltaire's life when he was enjoying domestic harmony, fulfillment in his role as Ferney's patriarch, and satisfaction in his victories in the war against the Infame.;A comparison of Voltaire's oriental contes shows how he drew on the Mille et une nuit literary tradition and focuses on his use of the Orient in La Princess de Babylone. Voltaire's treatment of fantasy is linked to his admiration for Ariosto's Orlando furioso. La Princess de Babylone is a soundly constructed fairy tale according to Propp's system of analysis. The themes of primitivism, pastoralism, and republicanism, found in Voltaire's tragedy Les Scythes 1766, reappear here. The utopian Land of the Gangarides is a fictional transposition of Voltaire's enthusiasm for India in 1767.;A critique of the conte's propaganda and satirical content is followed by an analysis of how skillfully this material has been integrated in the fairy tale. The conte's vitality and enduring appeal result from the complex fusion of reality with myth.



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