Emilie du Châtelet Criticism - Essay

Ira O. Wade (essay date 1941)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Wade, Ira O. “The Intellectual Atmosphere at Cirey.” In Voltaire and Madame du Châtelet: An Essay on the Intellectual Activity at Cirey, pp. 13-47. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1941.

[In this excerpt, Wade discusses du Châtelet's influence on Voltaire's work in physics and metaphysics, particularly his Traité de métaphysique.]

[In] the years 1733-49, the intellectual atmosphere at Cirey was compounded of a strong English influence (Addison, Pope, Swift, Mandeville, Locke, Newton, Shakespeare, Collins, Clarke, Woolston, and Middleton), a continuous traditional influence (Bayle, Fontenelle, La Fare, Chaulieu, Boulainvilliers, Fréret, Mirabaud,...

(The entire section is 7724 words.)

Linda Gardiner Janik (essay date 1982)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Janik, Linda Gardiner. “Searching for the Metaphysics of Science: The Structure and Composition of Madame Du Châtelet's Institutions de physique, 1737-1740.Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century 201 (1982): 85-113.

[In this essay, Janik attempts to clarify the genesis of du Châtelet's study of and “conversion” to Leibnizian metaphysics, slightly revising the narrative W. H. Barber had earlier proposed.]

While the vicissitudes of the career of ‘la docte Emilie’ have often been chronicled, much remains to be said about the scientific and philosophical significance of her writings. Mangeot and, more recently, Mauzi have discussed the...

(The entire section is 16320 words.)

Linda Gardiner (essay date 1984)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Gardiner, Linda. “Women in Science.” In French Women and the Age of Enlightenment, edited by Samia I. Spencer, pp. 181-93. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984.

[In this essay, Gardiner employs du Châtelet's career as a case study for understanding the potential for women in science during the eighteenth century.]

The role of women in science in eighteenth-century France is an almost totally unexplored field. Indeed, the topic itself is hardly defined. What to include in addressing it, therefore, is initially unclear. Should one try to reconstruct the scientific training available to French women in the period? Should one look at the “fashions”...

(The entire section is 5928 words.)

Esther Ehrman (essay date 1986)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Ehrman, Esther. “The Writings of Mme. du Châtelet.” In Mme. du Châtelet, pp. 46-83. Leamington Spa, Eng.: Berg Publishers, 1986.

[In this excerpt, Ehrman gives a synopsis and analysis of du Châtelet's translation of Mandeville's Fable of the Bees and other works, including her partial Grammaire, the Examen de la Genèse, and the Discours sur le bonheur.]


The controversy which surrounded Mandeville's work must have been in full swing during Voltaire's stay in England. The debate centred on the third edition (1723) of a...

(The entire section is 10273 words.)

Judith P. Zinsser (essay date 1998)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Zinsser, Judith P. “Emilie du Châtelet: Genius, Gender, and Intellectual Authority.” In Women Writers and the Early Modern British Political Tradition, edited by Hilda L. Smith, pp. 168-90. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

[In this essay, Zinsser examines how du Châtelet negotiated political and societal demands to produce and publish her work.]

As Sarah Hanley's essay on Christine de Pizan and the Salic law demonstrates (chapter 13), France has a long tradition of women writing and writing on political subjects. In England the Civil War and Glorious Revolution increased the numbers and status of writers on many kinds of topics; Louis XIV's...

(The entire section is 11402 words.)

Julie Candler Hayes (essay date 1999)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hayes, Julie Candler. “Physics and Figuration in Du Châtelet's ‘Institutions de physique.’” In Reading the French Enlightenment: System and Subversion, pp. 86-110. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

[In this essay, Hayes highlights how du Châtelet inserts herself into her text, establishing her voice by drawing together two models of thought—in this case Newtonian physics and Leibnizian metaphysics—and building her own position through the connections and analogies.]

For philosophers and scientists as well as the non-specialist reading public, Newtonian science presented a model of conceptual clarity and methodological purity. Even if...

(The entire section is 11914 words.)