Oxford University's Voltaire Foundation has formed a new and surprising partnership.
Their ambitious project to publish the Complete Works of Voltaire is now being supported by LVMH Moët Hennessy, Louis Vuitton and Bernard Arnault, its Chairman and CEO.
The global luxury goods brand will donate a substantial amount over the next three years to support the Voltaire Foundation as it researches and publishes the final volumes in the Complete Works of Voltaire.
The 18th-century French writer Voltaire is an iconic figure in European culture, and his thinking about freedom of expression and religious tolerance lies at the heart of Western liberal democracy.
The Complete Works is the most ambitious project in French literature currently being undertaken outside France. It aims to publish all of Voltaire’s writings with expert commentary alongside the texts. When the project is completed in 2019, it will amount to more than 200 volumes.
The next edition to be published includes key Voltaire texts such as Micromegas, a science-fiction tale about a planet-hopping giant’s visit to our world which Voltaire uses as a commentary on the society in which he lived, and man’s place in the universe.
Professor Nicholas Cronk, Director of the Voltaire Foundation at Oxford University, said: 'We are very appreciative of this supportive endorsement from such a well-known French company whose high-profile, iconic brands match the world-class cultural aspirations of our ambitious project.
'When the Complete Works of Voltaire is published in its entirety, it will change fundamentally the way we think about the Enlightenment and the importance of the Enlightenment in the modern world.'
Bernard Arnault, Chairman & CEO of the LVMH Group, said: 'The driving force for the LVMH Group’s success is based on extracting value from a unique heritage and stimulating modern day creativity and excellence.
'The unprecedented project carried out by the Voltaire Foundation to publish the complete works of Voltaire follows a similar path as it aims to make available and to promote one of the most outstanding thinkers of the 18th century, to enlighten our times. It is with pride and gratitude to the Oxford University that we embark on this adventure.'
*This piece was written for the University of Oxford Arts Blog and can be viewed here.