Reading hasn't really been a big priority in my life the past few weeks. With only a few weeks left in the semester my body decided it needed a break, to make sure I understood what it meant, it made me super super sick. coughing all night, no voice sick. This paired with homework, and more importantly making Hogwarts themed scarves for opening night of Deathly Hallows has put reading for fun on the back burner. But seeing as how Persian Letters is homework, I did manage to get it read. I promise after Friday I'll be back with a stack of books I've been dying to read.
Persian Letters is exactly what it sounds. Well, almost. Montesquieu has his readers loosely following the journey of two Persians, Usbek and Rica, from their homes to Paris, where they experience interesting western things like apartments and loose women and lots and lots of philosophy. Occasionally there are letters from harem Usbek left behind, but usually these are just about how the women miss him, or how they are misbehaving, depending on the writer.
Written by the French Montesquieu in 1721, it is a suprising read. I didn't expect to enjoy anything about Persian Letters, and for the most part, I wasn't surprised by long winded letters on depopulation, money, medicine, and a slew of other things that are more likely to make even the most attentive reader yawn. However Montesquieu surprised me with interesting side stories told in his letters. While Usbek and Rica's journey is straight forward and dull, the mythes they write about, in the hopes of making a point are fascinating. Usbek's Troglodyte myth would have been a much easier way of teaching middle school me about different forms of government. There are also adaptations of Greek myth, and a forbidden love story.
All in all, I can't recommended Persian Letters to anyone. It has a place in history, but isn't really a classic. The narrative is to loose to be engrossing and the characters to unknown to be cared about. It's an interesting social commentary, and I can see why it was popular when it was published a little under 300 years ago, but even with economic themes being dealt with it doesn't ring relevant today.