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Emilie du Chatelet's Writing

Due to her natural talent with languages, Emilie translated into French classical works and works in foreign languages that she believed were of merit.

Emilie's published work includes:

Oedipus Rex by Sophocles (a play translated from Greek to French)

The Elements of the Philosophy of Newton (1738 edition)
After settling in at the Chateau Cirey, Voltaire and Emilie worked together to write The Elements of the Philosophy of Newton (1938 edition). The book lists Voltaire as the author, however, in the preface to the book, Voltaire states that they worked together on this project. This book introduced Newton's theories to French readers on a level that did not require an understanding of higher mathematics.

Institutions de Physique (published in 1740)
This text was an explanation of the metaphysical theories of Gottfried Wilheim von Liebniz as expressed in his Monadologie (1714).

Principia by Isaac Newton (translation published in 1759)
The Elements of the Philosophy of Newton, published in 1738 was written by Voltaire and Emilie to introduce French readers to Newton's theories. This general presentation of Newton's theories did not contain the higher level mathematics that supported Newton's theories. After 1738, Emilie continued her studies in higher mathematics for more than four years, and then took on the project of translating Newton's "Principia" from the original Latin into French. She also added sections that explained additions and corrections to the work that were made by French scientists.

The unidentified editor of Emilie's work stated that "one will often find Newton more intelligible in this translation than in the original and more even than the English version." Emilie's translation of the Principia remains the authoritative French translation of Newton's work.


Sources for additional reading on the work of Emilie du Chatelet:

Dr. William Uzgalis, of the Department of Philosophy, Oregon State University, provides a list of Emilie du Chatelet's known work and a commentary on its content. Visit Émilie, Marquise du Châtelet-Laumont (1706-1749)

Judith P. Zinsser: Emilie du Chatelet: genius, gender and intellectual authority, in Hilda L. Smith: Women Writers and the Early Modern British Political Tradition. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 168-190. Judith Zinsser discusses the challenges that Emilie du Châtelet faced in an intellectual environment that excluded the participation of women.


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Château de Cirey
52110 Cirey-sur-Blaise
Haute-Marne France

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Last Updated: March 30, 2007