Frederick the Great's "The Works of the Philosopher of Sans Souci." Volume I


The three-volume edition of selected works by Frederick II, King of Prussia, printed in 1749−50, was the first product of Frederick’s private printing press at the palace of Sanssouci. The king entitled the edition, the contents of which were entirely in French, Oeuvres du Philosophe de Sans Souci (The works of the philosopher of Sans Souci). (Sanssouci was the name of the summer palace that Frederick had built just outside Berlin in 1745−47.) Volume one contained the burlesque heroic epic Le Palladion, which was written as a carnival jest and was to remain an absolute secret because of its harsh satire directed at Frederick’s contemporaries and at the Christian religion; only 24 copies were produced. After Voltaire (1694−1778) arrived in Potsdam in July 1750, he was given the second and third volumes of the Oeuvres from 1750 for editing (although not the first volume with Le Palladion). Frederick then had a new first volume of the Oeuvres printed at the Sanssouci press. It contains the eight odes and the 16 poems known as épîtres, or missives, from the second volume of 1750, edited and proofread by Voltaire. It also includes additional odes (one of them addressed to Voltaire) and épîtres as well as the first printing of Frederick's "L’art de la guerre," a poem in six cantos, together with etchings by Georg Friedrich Schmidt designed according to drafts by Blaise Nicolas Le Sueur.

Last updated: August 19, 2015