The Persian Letters (French: Lettres persanes) is a 1721 epistolary novel by Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesqueieu.
The work contains the correspondence of Usbek and Rica two fictional Turkish travellers on a visit to Europe from 1711 onwards, a form which provides a vehicle for much satire of contemporary Western society. The travellers' penetrating observations on the people they encounter contrast with Usbek's disastrous relations with his own harem, to provide a sombre commentary on the difficulty of achieving self-knowledge.
Free online texts
Internet Archive: Persian Letters, Vol I | Vol II. Translated by John Davidson.EPUB, MOBI, PDF and TXT formats.
Wikisource: Persian Letters, translated by by John Davidson (1899). HTML and other formats.
Gutenberg: Lettres Persanes - Tome I | Tome II. EPUB, MOBI, HTML and TXT formats.
Wikisource: Lettres Persanes. HTML and other formats.
BBC In Our Time: Montesquieu, discussion programme with Melvyn Bragg and guests.
Librivox: Les Lettres Persanes, Tome Premiere. Public domain audiobook in French.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Baron de Montesquieu, Charles-Louis de Secondat
Wikipedia: Montesquieu - Persian Letters
Montesquieu: The Spirit of the Laws - develops a number of ideas that are prefigured in the Letters.
Jean Chardin: Persian Travels - A key source of information on Persia at the time Montesquieu wrote.
Giovanni Paolo Marana: Letters Written by a Turkish Spy - A significant literary precursor.
French Language resources