Our Notes & References
Attractive example of this anti-revolutionary tract, first published in Paris in 1790 as Bon Dieu! Qu’ils sont bêtes ces Français! This work takes a strong stance against the free-thinking works of Voltaire, and what are seen as the sacrilegious ideas of the French Materialist philosophers – a standpoint that tied in well with the ideological conservatism of the Russian church and state.
The French Revolution aroused strong reactions in Russia, particularly among the government and ruling elite, for whom the message of liberty and equality presented a deep existential threat. The violent aftermath of the revolt was roundly condemned, and Louis was officially proclaimed a royal martyr. Such was the anti-French feeling in Russia during this period that there were even book burnings staged in Saint Petersburg and Moscow.
This Russian edition was translated from the German (strangely enough) by Ivan Fedorovich Vensovich (1769-1811), a student in the medical department of Imperial Moscow University. Vensovich later went on to become a professor of medicine at the university.
Very rare: the list of subscribers accounts for only 68 copies, mostly to Russian nobility, unusually including a few women (Naryshkina among others). Worldcat locates only two microfilm copies (Harvard and Ohio) outside Russia.
Red stamp to title (unidentified; armorial?); Russian purchase note in ink to upper fly-leaf, dated 3/15 April 1869.
Sopikov 2089; Svod. Kat. 354.